With rapid development and proliferation of technology, there has been an equally massive surge in urbanization. According to a number of researches, in the year 2007, for the first time in history, the majority of human population, the world over, lived in cities. This is certainly a massive landmark, and yet, urbanization is happening just as strongly.
Most of the population in cities drives cars, and their number is only expected to rise. Sadly enough, this has also led to an increase in road accidents, and the injuries and deaths they cause. This is a situation which calls for immediate, effective solutions. We must ask the question, “Can our transportation infrastructure and management approaches handle this rise?”
To this end, globally, officials are implementing changes in Road Safety Management. Let’s continue our investigations of some of the more effective ones:
In Stockholm, a dynamic toll system has played a vital role in controlling the flow of vehicles into the city. It has reduced traffic by 20%, decreased wait time by 25%, and cut emissions by 12%.
In Singapore, sensors are installed to measure and predict traffic scenarios, with 90% accuracy.
In Kyoto, city planners study huge traffic situations, involving thousands vehicles, to analyze the impact of urbanization.
In Bangkok, during certain hours of the day, the direction of the traffic on many one-way roads is changed.
Manila has a rather peculiar way controlling traffic. In heavy traffic, vehicles with number plates ending with the numbers 1 and 2 are forbidden from operating on city roads on Mondays, between 7 am and 7 pm, to reduce traffic jams.
Bermuda has gone ahead – imposing similar bans on rental cars.
The Romanians have been very proactive. Logic dictates that in the time-gap in which the accident takes place and the paramedics arrive, a lot can be lost. The Romanian Red Cross, a partner of the Global Road Safety Partnership, addressed this issue by training people on first-aid. The goal is to compliment the efforts of the paramedics, and boost the chances of survival of accident victims.
Remember the walking cars of The Flintstones? Sure you do! The concept exists even today. Students in South Africa get on a ‘Walking’ school bus, and walk in pairs behind an adult driver who directs the route between home and school. Physical fitness, clean and pollution free environment, and strong community relations are only few of the pros of this age-old concept.
If one country uses buses without wheels, another changes the name of its town to promote road safety. Strange but true – a town in Australia, named Speed, decided to modify its name to Speed Kills, to promote road safety. On Facebook, a campaign was launched for the name change, and it was decided that if the campaign received at least 10,000 ‘Like’s, the town would be renamed. It achieved over 33,000.
In conclusion, we can say that effective urbanization needs at its heart an effective transportation system. This increases the emphasis that must be laid on road safety. Let us work towards not just getting better roads from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, but making sure we can travel those roads safely. ‘Smart’ traffic systems can be the key to reaching this goal, but, in reality, it will be achieved only when individuals make efforts.
An estimated 1.2 million die, and 50 million get injured, each year due to flaws in traffic and road management systems – and this is no less than a catastrophe! Road injuries were the ninth-leading cause of death the world over in 2004, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, by 2020, they will be “the third highest threat to public life.” If proven true, they will be a threat more serious and dangerous than HIV/AIDS. As such, it has become the need of the hour to implement a more systematic approach to traffic – Road Traffic Management. Firstly, we must recognize the importance of regulating public transport and road traffic. Once key areas are identified, effective measures must be swiftly taken towards the implementation of the plan. By observing the road safety practices of other countries, we can better realize our needs, and identify the measures, that need to be taken with some immediacy:
Europe’s Road Safety Days: Every country has its unique design of traffic management, suitable to its roads and vehicles. In the UK, Malta, Ireland, etc. traffic mainly drives on the left, whereas it is largely the other way round in the rest of Europe. The continent practices ‘Europe’s Road Safety Days’ – a great opportunity to work towards road safety, with many of the youth actively participating, by targeting themes such as alcohol, drugs and education. The first European Road Safety Day was celebrated on 27th April, 2007 – in tandem with the United Nations’ Global Road Safety Week, being commemorated from the 23rd to the 29th of April of the same year.
New York City institutes infrastructure for pedestrians: USA’s safest city is a threat to pedestrians, and research points out that it urgently requires better infrastructure for their safety. To this end, pedestrian countdown signals are being installed, and some busy street are being re-engineered.
England’s town has no traffic lights!: The English town of Portishead, about 120 miles west of London, had an interesting experiment. They turned off the traffic lights on a major road in September, 2009. The four-week study, to solve long-standing congestion at the junction, was not only unique, but also successful. In the trial period, roads were monitored using cameras to see the impact switched-off traffic signals would have on congestion. It turned out that drivers were forced to pay more attention to other vehicles, and pedestrians. And, obviously enough, there were considerable savings on the maintenance of traffic lights.
Kenya says, “Rewards for speeding!”: Nairobi, working closely with the Kenya Red Cross, carried out a radically distinctive workshop for road safety. They said, “Wear a helmet, and speed!” This brought into focus new revelations on specific risks associated with speeding. Techniques are now being developed to counter them.
To conclude, it can be said that innovative techniques of Road Traffic Management maybe easier to implement and more effective. Accidents are rising at an alarming rate, and, more than anything, it is the citizens’ awareness, and active participation, that will help curb the menace. “Precaution is better than cure” is a commonly-used adage, but the question that arises is, “How often do you practice it?”