Multi-stakeholder report on road safety prioritises tech implementation in school buses, hazardous materials-carrying vehicles

The report which is compiled by FTI Consulting incorporates inputs from MoRTH, ARAI, CSIR-IIP, STUs, and technology giant Intel.

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 02 Aug 2023 Views icon5239 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Multi-stakeholder report on road safety prioritises tech implementation in school buses, hazardous materials-carrying vehicles

Global business advisory firm FTI Consulting today released a multi-stakeholder report and road safety policy recommendations paper titled ‘Making Roads Safer in Indian Cities.’ The whitepaper prioritises the adoption of road-safety-related technological solutions in school buses and hazardous materials (HazMat)-carrying commercial vehicles in India.

The report and paper are based on inputs and participation of the various stakeholders of the automotive industry, including the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), Indian Chemical Council (ICC), State Transport Corporations, and technology giant Intel.

Technical agencies and civil society also contributed to the development of the report which derives data from Intel’s ‘iRaste’ pilot road safety project conducted in Nagpur and Telangana for almost 18 months.

According to FTI Consulting, it was engaged by Intel to help curate a multi- stakeholder discussion and prepare this report, by bringing together diverse perspectives and recommendations from different stakeholders to improve road safety in India.

The report highlights the development of a roadmap for road safety technology adoption by retrofitting legacy vehicles in the commercial vehicle space with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) devices such as driver drowsiness detection, lane-keep assist, blind-spot detection, and lane-departure warning among others. For the school buses category, the stakeholders recommended defining basic minimum safety levels that are practical, cost-effective, and can be adhered to by all, especially lesser privileged schools.

Driver upskilling and retraining were identified as a major determining factor among both vehicle categories, suggesting continuous monitoring and data-based training as the need of the hour. Moreover, classifying drivers for HazMat and school buses under a special category, will enhance the focus of their driver training, the report suggested. The deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based and data-based technological interventions would help gauge drivers by quantifying their driving skills, and help improve their skills, and train them to be safer drivers.

Technology as a safety enabler

According to Intel, its iRaste Nagpur project data shows significant impact of ADAS in identifying driver behaviour challenges and in nudging improved behaviour. It said that a strong element of technology and with driver awareness are the most critical elements in reducing the number of road accidents. The company, which installed OBD-based IoT devices in HazMat vehicles in Telangana and Nagpur observed multiple vectors, including the ADAS device, road infrastructure, authorities, and awareness, to its initiative.

According to ARAI, ADAS-related functions such as lane-departure warning and advanced emergency braking could be beneficial for application in HazMat vehicles.

A blind-spot information system which improves the driver’s field of view will also go a long way in preventing road accidents involving these heavy-duty vehicles, the research body recommended.

On the passive safety front, the report recommended the use of telemetric data to monitor harsh driving and turns, and speed monitoring systems to be introduced in a phased manner. “At 2.8 million trucks, the number of commercial vehicles on the roads are clearly very high, and there is an urgent need for safety systems and technologies,” the report said.

According to Vinnie Mehta, Director General, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), “For most advanced technological interventions, standards are in place today, and what is interesting is that there is not any resistance from the industry in adopting these standards despite the cost pressures.

The government is also pushing OEMs to implement these technologies, and OEMs are also looking at implementing these solutions from a vehicle export potential perspective. There is also a lot of awareness and consciousness from that front.”

“The automotive industry is today talking about the implementation of safety technologies such as ESC, AEB, lane-departure warning among others, and this is very encouraging,” Mehta said at the report’s launch in New Delhi.

As per a MoRTH report, 11,168 children lost their lives in road crashes in 2019, an increase of 12% over the previous year. That translates to a shocking 31 child deaths a day and is nearly 8% of total road fatalities. On the other hand, due to the potential risks of fire and explosion, HazMat vehicles are a distinct category of vehicles, and therefore, accidents involving these vehicles are unacceptable. The report mentioned that reducing road accidents and fatalities, which were reported at 153,972 lives in CY2021, is a national priority, and must be addressed with utmost urgency.

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