The Global status report on road safety 2013 estimates that more than 231 000 people are killed in road traffic crashes in India every year. Approximately half of all deaths on the country's roads are among vulnerable road users - motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists.
A heterogeneous traffic mix that includes high-speed vehicles sharing the road space with vulnerable road users as well as unsafe road infrastructure and vehicles that are in poor condition all contribute to the high fatality rates seen on India’s roads. India is one of the countries included in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme which is being conducted over five years (2010-2014) by a consortium of international partners together with national governments and local organizations.
The overall goal of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme in India is to support the Government of India to implement good practices in road safety in line with the national road safety strategy. The focus of the project is on promoting motorcycle helmets and reducing drink–driving.
The project is being implemented in:
The combined population of these focus areas is nearly 13 million people.
In the context of the project in India, WHO assesses legislation and advises on possible improvements, develops social marketing campaigns and measures their impact, hosts workshops for journalists, and provides road safety equipment to local implementers. The Global Road Safety Partnership trains the police on enforcement and supports NGOs in their advocacy efforts, while Johns Hopkins University conducts monitoring and evaluation activities.
In 2012 WHO conducted a review of existing laws and regulations within the Government of India’s Motor Vehicles Act, with a particular focus on drink–driving and motorcycle helmet wearing. Two proposed legislative amendments have been stalled in Parliament – one an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act which proposes to increase fines for road traffic violations as well as address post-crash care, and the other to set up a lead agency for road safety.
Given this, WHO activities focus largely on advocacy for action by the Government to adopt recommendations for amending the Motor Vehicles Act. In December 2013 WHO supported hosting of a High-level Meeting on Road Safety to enhance advocacy for the proposed amendments
WHO produces evidence-based mass media campaigns after extensive research and testing conducted with target audiences. The following social marketing campaigns to prevent drink–driving have been developed, aired and evaluated in India.
Print ads and radio spots have also been developed and aired as part of this campaign. The evaluation results show that 52% of the respondents have seen the campaign, while 75% recognize drink–driving as one of the main causes of road traffic crashes.
Media reporting on road safety is an important mechanism for raising awareness among the general public and promoting specific policy changes by policy-makers. Between November 2012 and October 2013, WHO organized workshops in Jalandhar, Hyderabad; Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh; and New Delhi on general road safety concepts. The latter focused as well on road safety legislation, in particular the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act.
These workshops were attended by a total of 155 journalists from print media. In preparation for these, meetings were held with 40 newspaper editors from national and local media. All workshops were also preceded by an assessment of media coverage of road safety in general and road safety legislation in particular.