by Alvin Mejia
As our plane landed at the beautiful Hyderabad International Airport, I was awakened by the realization that I had finally reached India. It was my first time to visit. Shortly after getting into a taxi, I knew I was going in for a ride. I felt a good mix of uneasiness and excitement, as our taxi dodged trucks, avoided motorcycles and passed through tight spaces in a race-like fashion. There I was, sitting nervously inside the taxi, as I realize the importance of the convention that I was going to attend the day after– the SAFE (Society for Automotive Fitness and Environment, a Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ Initiative) 2009 Annual Convention which would focus on vehicle inspection and certification (I&C).
I started thinking whether our taxi was worthy to hit the road. Yes, it was quite a new car (maybe a two-year Maruti Suzuki car), but I noticed the wheels of the taxi weren't aligned. The driver couldn't get past 80 km/hour because the wheels would start wiggling. This gave me some relief since I knew our speed would be limited to 80, but then again, I was also entertaining some bad scenarios as the wiggling continues. Thankfully, everything went well.
Vehicle I&C plays an important role in mitigating the negative impacts of vehicles that dominate our roads, particularly accidents and air pollution loads. Approximately 3 million accidents are reported to occur in Indian roads every year. Around 60,000 deaths occur annually or approximately one fatality every 10 minutes. Also, automobile emissions have contributed significantly to air pollution loads in Indian cities. Ms. R. Shobha of the Andra Pradesh CPCB Office said that vehicles 50% of PM10 and PM2.5 in the area of Andra Pradesh.
The honorable guests who graced the event with their addresses also emphasized the importance of inculcating a culture of safety and disciple in the drivers. According to SIAM, 77% of the road accidents in India are due to driving errors, while defective vehicles are responsible for more than 6% and pedestrians & cyclists contributing to 4% and 3% respectively. The Chief Guest Mr. A K Parida, the Principal Secretary of the Government of Andhra Pradesh made a very good point regarding the need of the public to have a “sense of awareness” that we do not only need to inspect whether our vehicles are roadworthy, but ourselves as well.
The main discussions during the convention centered on the enforcement and innovation in terms of automotive safety, the best practices in inspection and certification and the adoption of best practices in enforcement of I&C systems. Overall, the convention was quite a success, having approximately 250 participants from different organizations that are involved in the Indian transport arena.
I guess as our vehicles become safer, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly, there's a need for us, the drivers, the commuters and the common public, to be more aware of the issues that affect us. At the end of the day, safety is in our hands.
Caption: Images from the 2009 SAFE Convention
Ravinder Kumar Sharma. 2009. A presentation on Road Safety Management disseminated at the 2009 Annual Safe Convention
Side Trip: A Visit to the Computerized Driving Licensing Center and Test Track of the Transport Department, RTO Uppal, Government of Andra Pradesh
A day before the 2009 Annual SAFE Convention was held, the hosts organized a field trip to the driving licensing center and test track of the Andra Pradesh Transport Department. Much has been done in the area in terms of streamlining, computerization and ensuring the quality of the processes that are involved in obtaining drivers’ licenses. For more information, please visit http://www.aptransport.org
Caption: Mr. B. Venkateswarlu, Jt. Transport Commissioner and Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Hyderabad leading the tour.
Caption: Inside the electronic driving test room
Caption: At the driving test tracks
For photos of the convention and the field trip, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cai-asia/sets/72157620175918361/