Research Project

Study of Community Design for Traffic Safety in India

Dinesh Mohan; Geetam Tiwari and Sudipto Mukherjee

Project Details

Objective

1. To study the epidemiology of road traffic injury (fatal) pattern in six cities of India differentitated by population size and high and low rate of fatalities per unit population.

2. To understand the modal share of victims and vehicles involved in crashes and to estimate risk functions associated with different road users.

3. To obtain a preliminary understanding of road design from an engineering perspective, design of the built environment from a land use perspective, and community design in a broader sense for control of road traffic fatalities in urban areas.

4. To suggest areas of detailed research for future studies.

Abstract
This study reports the results of fatal road traffic fatal crash data from six mid sized cities in India: Agra, Amritsar, Bhopal, Ludhiana, Vadodara and Vishakhapatnam. The total number of vulnerable road user deaths in all the six cities range between 84% and 93%, car occupant fatalities between 2% and 4%, and TST occupants less than 5%. The largest proportion of fatalities for all road user categories (especially vulnerable road users) are associated with impacts with buses and trucks and then cars, however the proportion of pedestrian fatalities associated with MTW impacts ranges from 8 to 25 per cent of the total. The data indicate that the 0-14 age group is under represented in proportion to their share in the population including children riding motorcycles. Occupant fatality rates per hundred thousand vehicles for MTW and TST occupants are 2-3 and 3-5 times higher that for cars respectively. However, estimates of association with fatal crashes shows that MTWs and cars pose a similar risk to society and TSTs little less. More detailed data are needed to confirm some of these results.

Introduction
1n 1990 road traffic injuries (RTI) ranked 10th in global years of life lost. In 2013 the global situation became worse with RTI moving up to 5th position after ischaemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, cerebrovascular disease, and diarrhoeal diseases. While the years of life lost due to RTI have increased globally, the situation has improved in many of the OECD countries but not in most of the low and middle-income countries. Among the low and middle-income countries India accounts for a large share of the deaths and disabilities contributed by RTI partly owing to its large share of the world population [3] and also because appropriate road safety measures have not been instituted in the country. In 2014 RTI resulted in 141,526 fatalities in India accounting for a rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 population as compared to rates of 3-4 prevailing in some of the most successful countries in the world.
The high rate of RTI in India is also reflected in its cities where the fatality rates can vary between 3-35 per 100,000 population. It is interesting that the lowest rates compare well with some of the safest cities in the world and the highest with some of the worst.  Over the past decade the fatality rate in some of these cities has increased by a factor or 4 or more. However, it is difficult to ascribe reliable reasons for these differences and the increases in fatalities over time as details of RTI and crashes are not available in the public domain for most of the cities.

Method
1. Selection of cities
Six cities with populations between 1.0-2.0 million were selected from different locations in India and different RTI fatality rates: Agra, Amritsar, Bhopal , Ludhiana,  Vadodara, Vishakhapatnam.  These cities represent the growing urban agglomerations of India where high growth rates are expected in the next decade.

2. Data collection
Research assistants were sent to Agra, Amritsar, Bhopal, Ludhiana, Vadodara and Vishakhapatnam to obtain primary data on vehicle registration and road traffic fatality cases and other data available in the city from secondary sources (e.g.: transportation and city development plan studies commissioned by respective city governments). Different police stations in each city were visited and a request placed for obtaining copies of First Information Reports (FIRs) of fatal road traffic crashes for the period 2008-2011. The data from the records so obtained were coded on to an accident recording form designed for this project. The data from these forms were then entered in spread-sheets for computer analysis. The following variables were used for analysis:

  • Sex of victims 
  • Month, day and time of crashes 
  • Road user type and type of associated crash vehicles 
  • Type of road where crash occurred 
  • Vehicles registered in the city 
  • Brief description of the crash as recorded by the police

Conclusions
The total number of vulnerable road user deaths in all the six cities range between 84% and 93%, car occupant fatalities between 2% and 4%, and TST occupants less than 5%, except in Vishakhapatnam where the proportion for the latter is 8%. These total proportions are similar to those in the megacities Mumbai and Delhi. Helmet use by MTW riders is not enforced in any of these cities though the use is mandated by the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 of India. The high rate of MTW fatalities can be reduced significantly if the existing mandatory helmet laws are enforced in all the cities and laws introduced for compulsory daytime running lights for MTW.
The largest proportion of fatalities for all road user categories (especially vulnerable road users) are associated with impacts with buses and trucks and then cars. This is true for the other four cities also. The most interesting feature emerging from this analysis is the involvement of motorised two-wheelers as impacting vehicles for pedestrian fatalities in all the six cities. The proportion of pedestrian fatalities associated with MTW impacts ranges from 8 to 25 per cent of the total. The involvement of MTWs as impacting vehicles in VRU fatalities may be due to the fact that pedestrians and bicyclists do not have adequate facilities on arterial roads of these cities and they have to share the road space (the curb side lane) with MTW riders. Provision of separate and adequate pedestrian and bicycle lanes in all cities is a prerequisite for RTI control.
MTW and pedestrian deaths are relatively high at 20:00-23:00 when we would expect traffic volumes to be low. Surveys done in Agra and Ludhiana suggest that due to lower volumes vehicle velocities can be higher at night, adequate street lighting is not present, and there is very limited checking of drivers under the influence of alcohol. This suggests that traffic calming methods, better street lighting and alcohol control would be necessary to control RTI during night tine.
Involvement of young children in fatal crashes appears to be low and the reasons for this are not clear need to be studied. Relative risk of occupants of MTW is the highest but not as high in the high-income countries. However, the estimated risk to society posed by cars as estimated from total involvement in fatal crashes seems to be greater than that posed by motorcycles and thee-wheeled scooter taxis. Further research is necessary to determine the veracity of these findings.

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