With an aim to significantly reduce road crash deaths and make the Old Mumbai-Pune Highway (NH 48) safe for all road users, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Volkswagen Group India and SaveLIFE Foundation, today officially launched the Vision Zero Initiative. The partnership aims to create a scalable and replicable model for road safety across Indian highways. This is in line with India’s commitment to reduce road crash deaths by 50 percent under the Brasilia Declaration.
While national highways constitute just two percent of the total road network in India, they account for 35 percent of total road crash deaths, translating to over 145 road crash deaths every day on national highways.
L-R: Piyush Tewari, founder, SaveLife Foundation; Gurpratap Boparai, managing director, Volkswagen Group India; Jayant Banthia, former Chief Secretary, government of Maharashtra; RM Mopalwar, VC and MD, MSRDC; Vinay Kargaonkar, ADGP (Traffic); Vijay Waghmare, joint MD, MSRDC and Dr Chandrakant Pulkwandar, joint MD, MSRDC.
Taking the initiative to tackle this pandemic, the Maharashtra government entered into a partnership with SaveLife Foundation and Volkswagen Group India through the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, Maharashtra Police and the Public Health Department. The chief minister of Maharashtra had announced the partnership as part of the Mahaparivartan Programme in February, 2019. Today marks the official launch of the initiative.
According to Eknath Shinde, Minister, PWD (Public Undertaking), government of Maharashtra, “The safety of people on the road is a priority for us. I want to make Maharashtra a model for other states to follow, with best-case practices in road safety. Road crash deaths are preventable and I am very hopeful about the Vision Zero Initiative that aims to bring down the deaths on NH48 to near-zero.”
Highlighting the importance of this initiative, R L Mopalwar, vice-chairman and MD, MSRDC, said, “Road safety needs to be integrated into execution of infrastructure projects, right from the planning stage. This must be a primary concern of policy makers as we can definitely bring about a significant change when we come together and take ownership. We are sure that through the Vision Zero approach we can protect many more road users, especially those who are vulnerable.”
The focus of Vision Zero is to significantly reduce road crash deaths through data-driven and evidence-based interventions. The initiative addresses road engineering interventions, improved post-crash emergency care, comprehensive research, better police enforcement and grassroot community engagement in a holistic manner. Advocacy and awareness will be created around systemic interventions to prevent road crashes and build effective first responders to aid emergency care on the 111km stretch.
Elaborating on the partnership, Gurpratap Boparai, managing director, Volkswagen Group India added, “Safety is integral to our vision of sustainable mobility. We, at Volkswagen Group India, not only want to build safest cars, but through Vision Zero want to work towards a safer eco-system for commuters against the ills of road incidents and injuries. Through this healthy public-private collaboration with SaveLIFE Foundation and MSRDC we would like to share our road safety expertise and create awareness among local communities.”
Commenting on the initiative, Piyush Tewari, CEO, SaveLife Foundation said, “Road safety is an issue that requires strong political will combined with deep inter-agency cooperation. We are grateful that both are possible in Maharashtra and are certain that the Vision Zero Initiative will create a safer NH 48. SaveLIFE Foundation will ensure that evidence-based interventions are carried out and measured in terms of lives saved.”
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