The government will set up a unified authority for road safety and other allied issues through an executive order, which would deal with issues including norms for issuing driving licences, crash test and safe vehicle designs.
This route is being taken as the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill can now be tabled in the Parliament during the next session.
Sources said the proposal to have Road Safety Authority will be taken to the Cabinet soon so that it can get hold of the issue, which is diverse and relates to several ministries, departments and state governments. As a result none is held responsible for present state of affairs. “We don’t have enough people to deal with this vast subject, though we are accountable to the government. We need to build capacity and have the mechanism or a set up to deal with these issues. The authority will be accountable and will have the task to execute the mandate,” a transport ministry official said.
Even the latest report by World Bank on Global Burden of Disease from Motorized Road Transport has recommended countries like India reporting high road fatalities to follow “agency-first” model. “Establishing a lead road safety agency, building reliable data systems, and other system-wide investments that encompass vehicle quality, enforcement, safe infrastructure, and road users in the pre-crash, in-crash, and post-crash stages are key,” it recommended.
Ministry sources said that besides setting standards and the monitoring mechanism for implementation of its guidelines and their compliance, the authority will specify norms for uniform database for collecting and managing data on licences, registrations, insurance, permits, road crashes, offences and penalties. They added that there will be similar authorities at state levels.
At present, the government depends on the road crash data that is collected from police stations across the country. The World Bank report has highlighted that there could be high percentage of underreporting of road crashes and deaths in India, pointing out how there is a need to have a better system for data collection. The report said until there is improvement in this field, “it is likely that road safety will continue to be neglected in national health and development priorities.”