Many of you may not be aware that we are now two years into the UN ‘Decade of action for road safety 2011-2020’, The World Health Organization (WHO) and ‘Make Roads Safe’ Campaign are also striving to improve road safety awareness and the bad news is that they are very concerned about forecasted accident increases, as well as the fact that from a global perspective, we, in India make up some of the worst road accident statistics in terms of the numbers of deaths and injuries sustained, especially when it comes to motorbike use.
Increased motor vehicle population and accidents
Figures from the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) reveal that a rise in income results in increased motor vehicle population and an increase in duration & number of travel trips, explaining why road accidents and deaths have increased by over 30% in India over the last ten years. A World Health Organization, report predicts that over 500,000 deaths will occur on the Indian roads by 2020 and so the need to take action sooner rather than later is clear. We, at Motorbikes India, want to help get those figures down before they can occur and truly hope that you do too.
The good news is that the government is taking positive steps to improve the situation (though the task is admittedly vast and will take time), involving various departments and initiatives aimed at increasing enforcement of (and improvements to) the ‘rules of the road regulations’ and the ‘Motor vehicles act’ via: better policing, identifying and eliminating black spots, improving road and vehicle design and engineering, markings and safety features (in line with international good practice), improving accident response facilities and making driver/rider training and vehicle testing more widely available (and obligatory in many cases). Another move that we really like is the planned use of part of traffic violation fines to go into a road safety fund.
The number of road traffic accidents per lakh population varies greatly between states (Goa suffering the highest number by far with 20 times more accidents per lakh population than for example Uttar Pradesh) and many states can learn from others how to make improvements. MoRTH is encouraging and facilitating better communication of best practice methods across India, so that road safety is continually improved on a national basis. In short, if we know how to save lives in one state, we can save lives in others and there is really no excuse not to do so.
Less accidents per vehicle
Interestingly, whilst the chances of being involved in an accident (per KM of road) have increased, the number of accidents per vehicle has dropped dramatically in the last 30 years, (as improvements to handling, breaking and safety protection have taken place). But if it’s increasingly less likely for the vehicles themselves to be an issue, we must look at the rider/driver as being a key factor in accident increases and take group and individual action towards better safety when riding our two wheelers. It is also important to note that whilst many new cars now have improved seatbelts, airbags etc. us bikers are still rather exposed, with 35 times the risk of fatality than a car driver, (though technology such as bike airbags and airbag jackets is progressing rapidly).
The scope for motorcycle safety improvements in India is massive as many bike riders have little or no formal training and little or no road safety clothing. Simply wearing a properly fitting helmet and abrasion resistant boots rather than shoes can immediately reduce risk of common injury and there are plenty more ways of increasing motorbike rider safety. Sadly it’s a simple proven fact that going too fast, without rider skills and without proper protection can be an often fatal combination. Even if you are the most cautious rider, you are vulnerable to the conduct of other motorists and road users, so taking proper safety precautions is plain common sense.
MBI Safety guide approved by The Bikerni founder
Fortunately riders don’t have to wait for background schemes to take effect in order to vastly reduce their own personal risks. We encourage all motorbike riders in India to take positive action during 2013 by downloading the ‘MBI Safety’ guide, which will be available here at motorbikesindia.com shortly. The vast majority of accidents (77%) are the fault of the driver/rider and the 37 page Motorbikes India Safety guide has a strong focus on improving attitude as well as factors such as improved visibility, the use of protective clothing and making sure that your bike is ‘road ready’.
The guide has had a superb review from The Bikerni founder, Firdaus Shaikh (Auto journalist and keen biker) – ‘I must say it is excellent and provides complete information for one’s biking safety. It will be ideal for newbies and also for seasoned riders… overall, it’s the best biking safety manual I’ve come across so far in my auto journalism career. Truly amazing. Hats off.’
It also meets the approval of our resident ‘MBI Bike Doctor’ (motorbike expert and ex tester) who has personal experience of not only losing a leg in a serious motorbike accident but actually dying in the act! We are most thankful to the emergency services for bringing him back to life, and proud that he has been able to review and contribute to the guide.
We have also included some interesting video links and encourage readers to think of others and forward the safety guide on to all people they know that ride motorbikes. Together we can help promote safe enjoyable biking in India!
Update: You can now download the PDF “MBI safety guide” here.
Disclaimer: This article was prepared or accomplished by it's author in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Motorbikes India or it's owners.
The views and opinions expressed on this web site are soley those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Steve Gerweck, the GERWECK.NET staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.