Sunday , 24 March 2019

Establishing A Good Road Safety System

THE state government proposes to set up an automated vehicle inspection and certification centre. The government hopes that with automated inspection system, interceptors and road safety equipment it can prevent accidents. The large number of accidents claiming hundreds of lives calls for an effective system. Non-adherence to standards in vehicle quality could be as much contributory to fatalities as non-adherence to rules by drivers. The state government is likely to ink a memorandum of understanding with the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) for vehicle inspection and certification. The Haryana-based ICAT is notified by the government of India as an independent agency for undertaking certification procedures of vehicles and components and is affiliated to the Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises. A vehicle inspection and certification centre, when it becomes a reality in Goa, would hopefully prevent red-tapism, corruption and favouritism that are perceived to be widely prevalent in the transport department. The scientific method would eliminate short-cuts adopted by transport officials in vehicle inspections and certification for owners that decided to please them with a bribe. A computerised system will be free from manipulations and will ensure that only those vehicles that pass the inspection process get certificates.

A scientific vehicle testing centre for whole of the state is expected to be set up in Ponda taluka, which is centrally located. Once the centre becomes a reality all the vehicles, particularly commercial and those seeking renewal of fitness certificates and other licences would be tested at the new facility on all days, including holidays. The proposed centre will have facilities for vehicle homologation and also testing laboratories for noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and passive safety. A scientific method of inspection and certification will help eliminate the possibility of ‘oversight’ in the physical checks of the vehicles done by transport department officials during inspections. Technological inspection will curtail the role of inspector regime in ‘passing’ the vehicles. There have been allegations that several vehicles are on the roads that did not deserve fitness certificates but underhand payments by owners did get the clearance from motor vehicle inspectors. That such corruption endangered the lives of the drivers of those “unfit” vehicles and other users of the roads was obvious but moral and human considerations were ignored by the corrupt.

In view of about 4,000 accidents being reported every year for over half a decade in succession in the state in which more than 300 people being killed, the state needs to have measures in place to make the roads safer and prevent accidents. While setting up the ICAT will take care of the issue of roadworthiness of the vehicles, the government also needs to improve the quality of roads, particularly in those stretches that often become a cause for accidents. The government should speed up procurement of interceptors and road safety equipment, which will help police and transport department officials to detect and record cases of over-speeding and other violations of traffic rules and punish the guilty. Modern gadgets will help the authorities in enforcing rules on the roads. The government has taken too long to decide on procurement of equipment. As the human resource is inadequate and the training and discipline among checking staff is far from satisfactory, equipment will be of help and their procurement should be expedited.  The government took considerable time to reconstitute the committee to look after the procurement of the modern gadgets; the committee should put on fast track finalization of tender terms, setting of conditions and eligibility criteria, RFP document and the specifications of the items to be procured.

The state has recorded nearly 170 accident deaths on the roads so far this year. With the new tourism season having started there is going to be heavy traffic on the road. As has been the case in the past, there is every possibility of motorists violating the road safety norms, especially in view of their knowledge that the state authorities do not possess gadgets or adequate human resources to catch violators. In the absence of modern gadgets, the traffic police have been using mobile phones at different places, especially at the intersections, to record violations so as to act against the offenders. The number of accidents will not come down unless the fear of being caught is there. Procurement of equipment alone would not reduce the number of accidents. Offences should be detected in a regular and surprise manner across the state. There should be lights at traffic signals in all major towns to restrain drivers from over-speeding.

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