In 2018, road fatalities in India accounted for 12 percent of the world total, despite owning only 3 percent of the world’s vehicles. This percentage, which in raw numbers amounted to 300,000 casualties in 2018, is far above that of highly motorized nations in the first world, such as the UK and Germany. The consistently high amount of road injuries and fatalities has given a sense of urgency to the situation, especially in Chandigarh where the toll was exactly the same as it was in 2018.
In light of this, the World Bank had fully stepped in to give its support, building on efforts made as early as 2017. Hopefully, this will compound on the momentum of existing traffic improvements in Chandigarh, and help not just the city but India as a whole.
The World Bank’s Stake on Indian Road Safety
The World Bank’s Mission and Vision statement expresses the organization’s main objective of eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. According to the World Bank’s Lead Transport Specialist, Arnab Bandyopadhyay, the human cost of India’s transport safety problem is a major obstacle in front of the World Bank’s goal. The organization considers it urgent to relieve India of economic stress due to transport-related incidents. In addition, a World Bank study discovered that if road casualties were lowered by 50%, India’s per capita GDP could rise by 14 percent by 2038. This further gives them a special interest in the matter.
Bandyopadhyay Stresses the Importance of Central Authority
According to Bandyopadhyay, to achieve a good level of road safety in India, a central agency should be established, fully supported with all the funds and manpower it would need from the start. Fortunately, the newly amended Indian Motor Vehicles Act, gives provisions for just that. This agency has been named the National Road Safety Board, which will become the central authority for all road safety efforts. Aside from this, aid is being given to states to establish their own independent road safety agencies.
This is under the new National Road Safety Strategy, which is in the process of completion. The National Road Safety Board adopts the World Bank’s target of halving all road casualties and aims to be fully self-sustaining, accountable, and well-staffed with experienced road safety specialists. It will also advise new motorists on road safety and how to choose roadworthy vehicles, as a supplement to reputable car review sources already available online. The agency seeks to sustain itself by collecting a percentage from vehicle insurance and other fees, similar to what was done in Sweden, Argentina, and other countries.
The World Bank’s Current Support Efforts
So far, the World Bank has donated the equivalent of $200 million USD, distributed among 12 different national and state highway projects. Among the most prominent of these is financial support to road safety legislation, which includes international benchmark development. With the help of the Bank’s own road safety specialists, they were able to assist the Indian government with revising road behavior codes, developing a system for accident prevention and analysis, the introduction of road safety audits, and the safety assessment of over 6,000 kilometers of roads and highways. As of the moment, the World Bank’s focus is on assisting the National Road Safety Board in achieving self-sustenance.
The importance of solving the road safety issues in India, and by extent Chandigarh, cannot be overstated. Fortunately. with the generosity of the world bank and the initiative of the Indian government, the road ahead leads to a bright future for Indian transport safety.