Driving safety in India

Those who have driven in developed countries and then driven in India will realize the stress that this activity brings about when you drive on the roads in India.

Figure 1 A common sight on Indian roads in 2014

 

Often this stress is not recognised by the majority of Indians because they have not simply experienced anything different.

Figure 2 How road safety works

There are rules and simple measures which can bring down the stress associated with driving by over 90%. Take for instance the universal respect or the STOP sign at intersections, which does not even require any electricity or high technology.

After the demise of a Minister recently in a car accident in Delhi, the Government has woken up to the need for improving driving safety, as this report in today’s Hindustan Times Newspaper says:

 

6 Jun 2014, Hindustan Times (Mumbai)Moushumi Das Gupta letters@hindustantimes.com

‘Motor Vehicle Act will be upgraded to int’l standards’

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NEW DELHI: India’s Motor Vehicle Act will be re-drafted within a month in line with advanced international practices to enhance road safety, said road transport, highways and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday. The new bill may include measures such as installing CCTV cameras at traffic signals, redesigning heavy vehicles and centralising data to check misuse of driving licences.

 


 

NEW DELHI: Two days after Union minister Gopinath Munde died in a road accident, the NDA government on Thursday pledged to overhaul the 26-year-old motor vehicle law that it said wasn’t saving lives but spawning corruption instead.

“The law has become antiquated and lost its relevance. We will scrap it and bring in a fresh law. The broad contours of the new law will be ready in a month’s time,” Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said after a review of road safety regulations. Gadkari told officials at the review that the old law was mostly being used by cops to harass the public and make money.

 


 

As part of the overhaul process, Gadkari has directed ministry officials to study how countries such as United Kingdom and Singapore – which have fewer road fatalities compared to India — tackle traffic violations. “We will study best practices in ten countries before drafting our law,” he said.

India has one of the worst road- safety records in the world, with a road accident every minute and a fatality on the road every three-to-four minutes. Approximately 137,000 people died in road accidents in the country last year alone.

 


 

The 1988 Motor Vehicles Act was last amended in 2001. Several committees have been set up since then to recommend changes to the law. In March 2012, the UPA cabinet, for the third time after coming to power in 2004, approved the draft Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill that proposed hefty fines for traffic violations. However, low priority accorded to road safety issues ensured that the bill didn’t get cleared by Parliament.

Gadkari said that the proposed law would provide for greater technology-based interventions to minimize road accidents and check violations. “We want to cut down on human intervention. The reliance would be on sophisticated IT-based systems,” he said.


Road ministry officials said they want the new bill to be ready for introduction in Parliament during the budget session. “We are working on a war footing to draft the new law,” Gadkari said.

Don’t waste time, Doctors say

Heart attack to hospital takes 5 hours in Mumbai

Doctors To Try & Cut Down Time Taken In City [Adapted from a front page article dated May 25 2014 : The Times of India (Mumbai)]

With three million cases every year, heart attack may be the commonest grave ailment in India. But Indians seem to be dimly aware of its calling card—be it the sudden pain in the chest, upper back or jaw—and often don’t react appropriately. A shocking 95% of heart attack patients take public transport to reach hospital. And, many of them reach after six hours—or over 380 minutes—of the first symptoms, found an all-India study.

Cardiologist Dr Prafulla Kerkar, who heads KEM Hospital’s cardiology department, said barely 10% of heart

attack patients in the city reach the hospital within the golden hour. The golden hour is the crucial period in which medical treatment can prevent permanent damage to the heart’s muscles.

“A study among 350 of our heart attack patients showed that 10% reached the hospital 12 hours after the attack. By this time, the advantages of restoring blood flow are lost,” said Dr Kerkar. The majority of the patients took a median time of five hours, which is twice as long as it takes in the West.

It is to reduce this time lag between the appearance of symptoms and hospitalization that a handful of cardiologists have come together to form a not-forprofit organization called STEMI India.

Three years ago, STEMI India brought together doctors, hospitals and ambulance providers in Coimbatore and Chennai to spread awareness about heart attacks and ensure that patients got treated within the golden hour. They have succeeded in reducing the average symptom-to-hospitalization time to less than three hours or 170 minutes so far.

Next weekend, the STEMI India group of which Dr Kerkar is a member will hold its first training programme in Mumbai at Powai. “Over 800 doctors from Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh will attend it,” said course director Dr Rajesh Rajani, cardiologist from Hinduja Hospital, Mahim.

“The message is that the longer you take to report to a hospital after a heart attack, the higher the chance that you are left a cardiac cripple who may well need repeated hospitalizations later on,” added Dr Rajani. It is now well established that patients who are given immediate medical treatment–say, a blood thinner or clot buster–may not suffer any long-term effects of a heart attack.
Many hospitals and nursing homes in Mumbai, though, still don’t give a clot-buster to a patient who comes in with suspected heart attack, say doctors. “They refer the patient to a bigger hospital without even providing streptokinase injection that can dissolve blood clots that caused the heart attack,” said Dr Kerkar. Ashok Hospital is one of the few Hospitals that give this vital clot busting drug, and Dr. S. P. Mathew encourages other Hospitals around to do the same.




Bullock carts and BMW’s

Today morning as I was waiting in the middle lane at the red signal, a bullock cart came by my side and stopped. I was admiring his traffic sense.

On my right in the fast lane came a BMW, and just whizzed past the red signal! An old man got almost knocked down as he was crossing the road.

Pictures used are only representative.

What would be your reaction?

I would wish that the BMW driver was caught and fined heavily.

Justice. Can it be found on Indian roads?