Rajasthan, the largest state in India by land area, covering approximately 10.4% of the nation’s territory, boasts a diverse landscape. From rugged mountain ranges to the arid Thar Desert, lush forested regions to expansive flat plains, the state’s topography presents a unique challenge for transportation and road safety. Each year, Rajasthan witnesses a significant number of road accidents, impacting the lives of over ten thousand individuals and causing immense economic and social burden.
The need for an extensive road network and a growing vehicle population to meet the state’s rising transportation demands is crucial for overall development. However, this rapid urbanization has come at a cost, leading to an increase in road traffic accidents and fatalities. Today, road traffic injuries stand as a leading cause of death, disability, and hospitalization, placing a substantial burden on the nation’s resources. It’s imperative to acknowledge that road accidents are preventable, and concerted efforts, at both individual and institutional levels, can significantly reduce fatalities. The progress made in recent years serves as a testament to the potential for further advancements in road safety.
The Lead Agency
The Department of Transport and Road Safety plays a pivotal role as the nodal department for road safety in Rajasthan. In line with the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, a state-level Lead Agency, known as the State Road Safety Cell, has been established within the Transport Department. This cell brings together officials from various stakeholder departments, including Transport, Police, Road Owning Agencies, Medical and Health, and Education, to collaborate under one roof. The collective efforts of these stakeholders have played a crucial role in stabilizing the road safety situation in the state to some extent.
The State Road Safety Cell acts as the secretariat for State Level Committees and serves as the Single Point of Contact for the Hon’ble Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety. Its responsibilities encompass coordinating with all relevant departments and agencies, ensuring compliance with the provisions of the State Road Safety Policy through the formulation and implementation of a targeted Road Safety Action Plan. It also plays a pivotal role in preparing budget allocation proposals, ensuring the judicious use of funds for road safety measures, and facilitating regular meetings with stakeholders. The lead agency further ensures the regular convening of District Road Safety Committees, compliance with decisions taken at the State Level, and the implementation of all other road safety-related activities within the state.
Road safety has consistently remained a top priority for the State Government, particularly following the establishment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety. The government has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at reducing road crashes and fatalities:
1. Name Change: The State Government officially changed the name of the Transport Department (Nodal Department) to “Department of Transport and Road Safety” through a Gazette Notification dated 01.10.2021.
2. Dedicated Road Safety Fund: In compliance with the instructions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court committee on Road Safety , a Non-lapsable dedicated Road Safety Fund has been established to ensure the effective implementation of various road safety measures. Up to 25 percent of the compounding fees collected by the Transport & Road Safety and Police Department in the previous financial year are transferred to this dedicated road safety fund.
3. Funded Initiatives: Various initiatives have received funding through this Dedicated Road Safety Fund, including the establishment of a Trauma ICU, Skill Lab, and Basic Life Support Training Centers, as well as the construction of Trauma Centers and the procurement of advanced medical equipment.
4. Institutional Mechanism: To promote road safety in the state, a robust institutional mechanism has been established at both the state and district levels.
State and District-Level Committees on Road Safety
The State Government has established three State-level and two district-level road safety committees with the primary objective of reducing road crash fatalities and monitoring district-level initiatives. These committees are chaired by key figures from higher authorities of the State Government and include officials from all stakeholder departments as well as non-government members, playing a pivotal role in advancing road safety efforts.
Technology Initiatives for Road Safety
The State has implemented a range of technology-based initiatives to enhance road safety, including:
1. Integrated Road Accident Database (iRAD): An online system that enables Police, Transport, Road Owning Agencies, and the Medical and Health Department to record road accident data, facilitating scientific investigation, targeted enforcement, road inspections, and policy development.
2. Road Safety War Room: The establishment of a Road Safety War Room to coordinate and provide immediate assistance to road accident victims.
3. E-Challans: Transitioning from manual challans to electronic challans for more efficient enforcement.
4. Portable Weigh Bridges: Procured 179 portable weighbridges for the flying squads of the Department of Transport and Road Safety to enhance enforcement.
5. Interceptors: Procuring interceptors to improve traffic management and enforcement on National Highways. These interceptors are equipped with advanced technology for speed measurement, number plate detection, and more.
6. Modern Enforcement: Allocating a budget to the Police for the purchase of equipment such as barricades, dash cameras, body-worn cameras, and speed radar guns for enforcement and traffic management.
7. Automated Driving Testing Tracks: Approval and funding for 37 Automated Driving Testing Tracks, with 13 already operational.
8. Making Highways Accident-Free: Ongoing efforts to make three National Highway stretches accident-free by establishing Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS) following a thorough audit.
9. Road Safety Module: Development of a mandatory Road Safety Module in collaboration with Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation Limited for students undergoing various courses. This initiative benefits around 6 to 7 lakh students annually.
10. Road Safety Web Portal: The development of a comprehensive Road Safety Web Portal, a CSR initiative by Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation Limited, in close coordination with the State Road Safety Cell and the Department of Transport and Road Safety.
11. Road Safety Audits: Implementing remedial measures based on road safety audits conducted by a Joint Inspection Team across all districts.
12. Integration of Ambulance Services: In the interest of reducing response times for road accident cases, the integration of the National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) services, Private ambulance services, and the State Emergency Ambulance Service (dial 108) with the Emergency Response Support System (dial 112) is currently underway.
Other Road Safety Initiatives
Several additional road safety initiatives have come into force, including the preparation of a Road Safety Road Map 2020, recognition and awards for Good Samaritans, free treatment for road accident victims, Chief Minister Road Safety Awards, the establishment of a State Road Safety Training Institute, the development of Traffic Parks, and the formulation of a 10-year Road Safety Action Plan under the World Bank- aided RSHDP-II project in collaboration with the Department of Transport & Road Safety and the Public Works Department.
These initiatives underscore the state’s unwavering commitment to enhance road safety and reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities on its roadways.
Views expressed by Nidhi Singh, Joint Transport Commissioner, State Road Safety Cell, Department of Transport & Road Safety, Government of Rajasthan