Living in an era where the news of people dying in automobile accidents has become commonplace, road safety has emerged as a matter of concern. It is a crucial topic that everyone must be acquainted with. In pursuit to create this awareness, NSS IIT Roorkee organised a guest lecture by Mr. Amar Srivastava, the co-founder of Indian Road Safety Campaign(IRSC) on 7th January 2017 at the MAC Auditorium, which witnessed a turnout of over 250 students.
The event began with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by Mr. Amar Srivastava, NSS Faculty Coordinator Dr. Smita Jha and the NSS General Secretary Mr. Somesh Mohapatra followed by the felicitation of Mr. Srivastava with a bouquet by Dr. Smita Jha. Dr. Smita Jha then took the stage and asked the students to drive their energy to make India a Superpower. She stated that NSS IITR is the largest student group in IIT Roorkee with a huge corpus of minds. She announced the commencement of the operation of the think tank portal through which ideas can be crowd sourced. She urged students to contribute, stating that there is no greater religion than patriotism. Somesh Mohapatra followed her to briefly talk about the activities of NSS and the administrative and evaluative changes to be brought in.
Mr. Amar Srivastava was then invited onto the stage to proceed with his talk. He started with a video depicting various road accidents and asked the audience to list the causes they held responsible for the accidents in the video. Some of the points that came out were:
- Skipping red lights
- Exceeding speed limits
- Improper road design
- Dysfunctional traffic lights
- Ignorance towards the very existence of zebra crossings
- Corruption involved in the licensing of drivers
- Driving in overconfidence; attempting stunts
- Lack of patience
- Stray animals coming in the path suddenly
- Reduced attention on the road due to phones
- Overloading of people
- Lack of knowledge of basic rules and tyre air pressure limit
- Construction of structures in the middle of the road
He proceeded to ask the audience as to how they got their driving licenses. Most of them had paid approximately 1500 rupees and got one without any test of driving or traffic rules. He pointed out that this is the same audience that a few minutes ago criticized that drivers get licenses through money; the problem with us is that we rarely follow what we preach; if we start following the path shown by us, there would be no need for such seminars. This was followed by some statistics on road accidents:
- 2 Lakh people are killed in road accidents annually, this being the reported figure. Far lesser people die of cancer. However, cancer gets much more funding.
- 40 children under the age of 20 die every day.
- There is 1 death every 4 minutes.
- These accidents have caused an approximate loss of 3% of India’s GDP. In most of the cases, the dead is the sole breadwinner of the family which then descends into poverty.
He told that recently, there has been a reduction in accidents in Delhi for an unexpected reason; increase in traffic jams preventing people from driving at high speeds.
He proceeded to outline five major causes for road accidents in India:
- Improper design of roads
- Lack of proper training
- Driver Issues (Drinking, overexertion)
- Pedestrian Issues
- Role of first responders
Out of the 2 lakh deaths, 1.25 lakhs could have been avoided had the first responders been trained for the scenario. Moreover, we indulge in various activities which slow our reaction time.
He proceeded with more infographics depicting the correlation between alcohol consumption and accidents and of killing bystanders.
He then informed the audience of the mission of IRSC- to reduce the accidents to half by 2020, and outlined a brief methodology for the same:
- Awareness Sessions
- Technical development-ambulances
He outlined IRSC’s role in reducing accidents in various cities and asked the audience to contribute as per their capacity. This was followed by a short video on road safety competition IRSC will hold. The session came to an end with the national anthem.
The event was a huge success, with people full of praises for it. An attendee, who does not wish to be named, said, “I am surprised at the way he kept us hooked for so long on seemingly an immensely boring topic. I came here prepared to ward of sleep, and am leaving full of enthusiasm and energy”.