With approximately 0.15 million deaths and almost thrice that number injured every year in India, road crash fatalities are a serious concern.
Road traffic fatalities are the tenth leading cause of death globally. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that if city authorities or government don't take necessary precautions in the next 13 years, it will become the 7th leading cause of death. Lower and middle income countries account for about 90 per cent of all road traffic fatalities globally each year. A scathing disclosure by WHO revealed that India makes up about 16 per cent of all road traffic fatalities each year.
With approximately 0.15 million deaths and almost thrice that number injured every year in India, road crash fatalities are becoming a serious concern. It is indeed an alarming situation for all citizens, including officials associated with road traffic management. The importance of efficient and accurate data collection and its clinical analysis plays a crucial role in effective enforcement as it helps various authorities to understand the issue and take corrective measures.
That said, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) and the city of Mumbai are making great strides in preventing collisions and saving lives with the use of data. Since the kick-off meeting with international partners and government representatives in Mumbai, the Bloomberg partners have worked with counterparts across various government agencies including the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Mumbai Traffic Police (MTP), Regional Transport Office (RTO), Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Company (BEST), and others to jointly develop a detailed work plan, collaborate, and implement various activities under the initiative.
According to Kelly Larson, Programme Director, Bloomberg Philanthropies, more than 50 per cent of the world's population lives in urban areas. However, she points out, 'Majority of city streets are designed for cars and not for people or bicyclists and motorcyclists.' Bloomberg Philanthropies is engaged in working with urban designers, transportation agencies to take a look at city streets, and how they can be designed effectively for the safety of all road users, and not just for the use of motor vehicles.
Larson while explaining the entire process revealed that crashes in Mumbai are first documented in a form called 'First Information Report' (FIR). An FIR can be filed by any witness, traffic police official or even the victim. Based on the location of the crash, an FIR is filed at the nearest police station as per the jurisdiction.
It is the responsibility of the concerned police station to further examine the crash and bring each investigation to its satisfactory conclusion. Before arriving at the final conclusion for the cause of each crash, various data parameters, such as victims involved, act of the accused and behaviour at time of the accident, feedback from any witness, autopsy report of the victim and technical reports of the vehicle along with internal investigation are gathered by the police.
Summary details from an FIR are compiled and sent by the concerned police station to the MTP headquarters on a monthly basis in a tabled format commonly referred to as the data sheet. At the MTP headquarters, the information from data sheet is manually tallied and cross checked to avoid double counting. The information received from various police stations are aggregated to create a manually tallied Mumbai city level dataset and to calculate the parameters required for monthly and annual reports to the state and national level.
As crash data was not stored in digital-tabular format, any additional review and extraction was very labour intensive. Identifying this limitation, the MTP and BIGRS team discussed ways in which such crash information could be better managed and a trial of data digitisation was initiated.
BIGRS technical partners and staff worked together to identify all of the variables produced by these weekly data sheets, as well as those required by the monthly and annual reports to the Government of Maharashtra. Once this list of variables was identified, a database (automated) entry system was created in order to enter each fatal crash into the database covering all of these variables.
Once this was completed, the database was analysed in order to produce summary statistics in the form of the tables and figures. The locations of the fatal crashes were mapped by manually entering crash location descriptions into Google maps and identifying the coordinates based on best available information.
Now, this data gathering is likely to be used for:
Redesign, redistribute and make roads safer!
As a part of the BIGRS programme, NACTO-GDCI-in collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and MTP-has been working on the redesign of Mith Chowki intersection in Mumbai, a space known as a hot spot for road safety challenges.
NACTO-GDCI conducted a trial to apply global best practice design strategies through a demonstration project on-site. Addressing the critical issues around road fatalities and injuries, the intersection has been redesigned to reclaim approximately 1,650 sq m of under-utilised space on the street for pedestrians and support a space that is more legible for all users.
Through narrowing free turning lanes and tightening corner radii to reduce speeding vehicles, and widening pedestrian sidewalks, approximately 27 per cent of the intersection area was redistributed to support safer movements for all road users. By also providing wider and more direct crosswalks, new refuge areas, and added curb-extensions, these evidence-based strategies are proven to reduce the risk of exposure of pedestrians to moving vehicles by giving them safer spaces to wait and shorter distances to cross.
The demonstration serves as a critical tool to trial and evaluates design strategies that will help address the intersection's increasing road safety risks due to growing vehicular volumes and pedestrian movements due to the incoming metro.
The proposal is based on principles from the recently released Global Street Design Guide (www.globaldesigningcities.org/publication/global-street-design-guide/), which aims to distribute the road space more equitably amongst different groups of people using the street and to prioritise our most vulnerable road users; pedestrians, children, elderly, and those with disabilities.
Simple, yet effective strategies around lane alignment, effective pedestrian crosswalks, and reclaiming underutilised road space for new public areas, have been used to channelise the movement of vehicles in an efficient and logical manner and provide pedestrians with a safe and comfortable environment.
Brief data collection exercises before and after the transformation to evaluate the project is being collected in collaboration with the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture (KRVIA). User surveys on all data collection days are also being conducted to compile the view of the local people and understand their perspective of how safe or vulnerable they feel while using the space, and how they would see it change.
The temporary artwork, which was completed conceptually in collaboration with KRVIA, represents the direction, path and volumes of pedestrians moving on the roadbed before the intervention. The interim intervention was planned to refine longer-term design strategies for the local context and to inform future design and construction of street projects around Mumbai.
- RAHUL KAMAT