A Delhi government study on road safety risk factors in Delhi, conducted jointly by the Johns Hopkins University’s International Injury Prevention Unit and the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), has found that every second motorcycle and nearly half of the light trucks, cars, auto-rickshaws and heavy trucks in the capital speed on city roads, while one in 10 cars and light pickup trucks ply at speeds in excess of 80 kilometres per hour (kmph).
Speeding remains one of the major causes for road accidents in the capital.
The findings of the study on road safety practices were presented before Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who conducted a road safety review of the city on Tuesday. The government plans to implement the lessons from the study in the coming days to reduce road accidents and resultant fatalities in the capital, said officials in the know of the matter.
The researchers from Johns Hopkins and CRRI fixed 15 observation sites at major junctions to monitor traffic between 7am and 7pm on both weekends and weekdays. These observations were carried out in 225 observation sessions spanning 20,250 minutes (337.5 hours) for a year from January to December 2022. The researchers then assessed vehicles on parameters such as helmet usage, seat-belt usage, child restraint usage and speeding.
The final report states that around 33% of motorcycle riders and 46% pillion riders do not wear helmets properly.
A similar trend was observed in the usage of seat belts — 59% of car passengers and 15% drivers did not wear the mandatory safety belt.
Despite last year’s campaign by the Delhi traffic police to get rear-seat passengers to wear set belts, a mere 1% of such passengers wore the safety belt. The study recommends that helmet clasping rule needs to be urgently enforced to save lives while seat belts for rear-seat passengers need to be enforced with special attention on children safety.
Last year in September, Delhi traffic police had launched a road safety drive to push people to use rear seat belts and imposed a penalty of ₹1,000 on violators. The drive was launched after the death of former Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry in a road accident –preliminary investigations suggested that Mistry, who was in the rear seat, was not wearing a seat belt. The study found that while the front seat passengers had a much higher proportion of seat-belt usage (74%), only 1% of rear-seat passengers used the safety belts. The study also red flagged the very low-level usage of child restraints while travelling with children under five years old (14%) and children aged between five and 11 years (3%).
After observing 98,294 vehicles, researchers found that the median speed in Delhi was around 44km/hour with a majority of cars plying at 40-50kmph.
The study stated that nearly 21% of vehicles were found to be plying at speeds in excess of the speed limit. It is to be noted that speed limits in the city vary from road to road for light and heavy vehicles. The study said every second motorcycle in Delhi was speeding and nearly half of the light and heavy trucks, cars, and autos were speeding. “Nearly 8.5% of cars and 10.2% of light pickup trucks ply at speeds more than 80km/hr,” it said.
A government spokesperson said the study has three major takeaways–helmet clasping rule needs to be urgently enforced; seat belts for rear seat passengers need to be enforced and child safety requires urgent attention. Speed enforcement is also required especially in the case of trucks and light pickup trucks.
The CRRI officials were not available to comment on the report.
Last year, a report by the transport department of Delhi government said two-wheeler riders and pedestrians top road fatalities in Delhi. Data showed that the maximum number of fatal accidents take place between 8pm and 1am on weekdays and between 11pm and midnight on weekends.