Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Goa urgently needs a Road Safety Audit

It is the undeniable truth that Goa’s newly developed road infrastructure has never been formally audited from the road safety point of view

Adv Moses Pinto | FEBRUARY 16, 2024, 11:59 PM IST

It is the undeniable truth that Goa’s newly developed road infrastructure has never been formally audited from the road safety point of view.

But first, it would be appropriate to introduce this altruistic concept of road safety as a necessity for the preservation of life on the newly constructed road infrastructure seen on Goan roads.

According to IRC SP 088: Manual on Road Safety Audit (2019) issued by the Indian Roads Congress:

“Safety Audit is a formal, systematic and detailed examination of a road project by an independent and qualified team of auditors that leads to a report of the potential safety concerns in the project.”

Historically, the Road Safety Audits began in the late 1980’s in an English County in the U. K. when questions were raised about the increasing number of Accidents on the new roads built in the County.

Consequently, a policy was developed in order to check all new road designs in the County and approved for Safety by a team of Road Safety Engineers (RSE) prior to construction.

Along similar lines, the World Road Association (2023) has postulated the IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERVENTIONS which starts with the Key Message:

- “Once high risk locations have been identified, appropriate interventions must be assessed and selected to address this risk.

- Effective road infrastructure interventions are available to help address road safety problems, regardless of the cause. These can reduce the likelihood and/or severity of a crash. Some interventions can almost eliminate death and serious injury, while others provide more limited (or incremental) improvements.”

Resultantly, the ROAD SAFETY MANUAL provides that:

“For all countries, in the establishment phase, there are known interventions, which if implemented effectively, will deliver results.”

These interventions include:

- Safer speed

- Improved safety of road and roadside infrastructure

- Improved seatbelt wearing

- Improving safety for vulnerable road users (pedestrians, two-wheeler riders, cyclists)

- Reduced drink driving

- Improved medical management after crashes occur

In close supervenience, an ‘office Memorandum’ dated: 13th January, 2023 issued by the Road Safety Cell of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways had declared:

“The following interventions need to be undertaken by all road owning agencies

A. Road safety Audit (RSA) of all NHs

a) NH stretches generally fall in one of the following categories:

(i) The stretches where the development/ partial or full strengthening work is in progress; 

(ii) The stretches where the development/strengthening work has been completed and are under DLP;

(iii) The stretches which are under O&M Contracts of any of the prevailing models of Maintenance Contracts; and

(iv) The stretches which are yet to be taken up for development or the stretches on which development has been completed long back and are to be taken up for redevelopment/further development.

As a Goan, it would be even more astounding to learn that according to the MoRTH, RSA form a part and parcel of any road development project and would therefore be a prerequisite for the issuance of a Completion Certificate as per the extant guidelines. Therefore, it becomes imperative that RSA gets implemented on the stretches in which development work is in progress. 

The Road Safety Cell of the MoRTH further reiterates that the RSA always needs to be carried out scrupulously before completion of the road work as per the RSA Manual of IRC and other guidelines/instructions of the Ministry.

Therefore, if the RSA had been implemented in Goa prior to the commissioning of the road infrastructure developmental works, it would have been highly effective in curbing road fatalities that are currently rampant on the Goan roads.

As per the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology Nagpur (2017):

In describing as to: Why Planning Stage Safety Audit ?

The simple answer seems more plausible:

- Works on a principle of “Prevention is better than cure”  

- Aims to identify safety concerns in road design while they are still pencil lines on a piece of paper  

- By making changes at the Design Stage the aim should be:  

- To reduce/minimize risks to future road users of that road 

- To reduce the long term cost of the scheme

Therefore, where unsafe designs may be expensive or even impossible to correct at a later stage, implementation of an RSA can curb these limitations upon road safety.

Therefore, once a Road Safety Audit (RSA) has been carried out on Goan roads, the suggestive wisdom of the World Road Association (2023) would be of relevance: “For the growth and consolidation phases of investment, development of comprehensive strategies and action plans will be necessary and there will be capacity available by then to build meaningful proposals which can be fully assessed for their likely contribution to proposed targets.”

Hence, it can only be a distant desire for now that the foresight of the World Road Association (2023) contained in the Road Safety Manual, entitled: ACHIEVING RESULTS IN THE GROWTH AND CONSOLIDATION PHASES would be worthy of noting:

“In this phase developed capacity data, tools and knowledge have to be available to:

- Enable a more detailed analysis of risks on a regular basis

- Analyse crash outcome risks

- Review existing action plans

- Develop countermeasure strategies and actions

- Evaluate implemented measures and economic measures (e.g. benefit-cost ratio, net present value and first year rate of return)

- Guide initiatives through legislative and policy development processes

- Disseminate results (e.g. by work-shops, knowledge exchange, information campaigns)”

Share this