India suffers the highest number of road accident deaths in the world with an average of 15 deaths recorded every hour. In the past decade, over 12 lakh people have been killed in road accidents in India and over 50 lakh have been left seriously injured or permanently disabled.
In such a scenario, Gurgaon-based Odette Katrak and her team of volunteers and supporters offer a glimmer of hope. Odette has been working for the cause of road safety as a writer, trainer, activist and road safety officer with the Gurgaon Traffic Police. ‘Light-a-Cycle’, an initiative that Odette is a founder member of, improves visibility of cycles/rickshaws on dark roads by applying retro-reflective tape on them, benefitting over 5,000 underprivileged cyclists/rickshaws till date.
Odette has also started a petition on Change.org to encourage people to become active change agents and influence positive behaviour on our roads. This petition urges citizens to take a safe-driving pledge and follow basic road safety practices such as obeying traffic rules, wearing helmets / seatbelts, never using a mobile while driving or drunk-driving. While it primarily aims to bring down accidents, its 15-point agenda also focuses on making traffic faster and smoother, with more consideration for other road users.
To pledge your signature to Odette’s campaign on safer roads in India, click here.
Delhi-based SaveLIFE Foundation had also initiated two petitions through Change.org, on two important laws that were discussed in Satyamev Jayate’s episode, ‘Road Accidents or Murders?’. On this episode, the organization’s founder, Piyush Tewari, discussed in detail the need for a National Road Safety Law and a Good Samaritan Law. Aamir Khan urged viewers to support Satyamev Jayate’s ask for a National Road Safety Law—one that resulted in over 18 lakh missed calls of support.
SaveLIFE Foundation’s petitions asking for these two laws also received overwhelming public support. Moreover, the organization has been the voice of road accident victims and their families. For instance, the petition demanding a National Road Safety Law enabled citizen Jyoti Gupta to share her story and ask for improved road safety. Her husband and three-year-old daughter were killed in front of her eyes while waiting for a school van when a speeding bus collided into them. It is thus her petition that SaveLIFE Foundation has taken to PM Narendra Modi—one that resulted in over 2,14,000 signatures of support! This overwhelming public support has also prompted the Government to draft a more comprehensive road safety legislation, the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014 which will be introduced in the Budget session of the Parliament.
It was also discussed on Satyamev Jayate that many lives can be saved if road accident victims receive help in the crucial one hour after the accident. However, as Piyush Tewari said, many bystanders and motorists are hesitant to help because of the many police and legal hassles that they feel are bound to follow. In this regard, a Good Samaritan Law is essential to protect the interests of those who help road accident victims.
Mr Tewari’s petition asking Health Minister J. P. Nadda for the same received more than 85,000 signatures of support. It was then delivered to the minister and subsequently on December 12, 2014, a private members' bill, titled the ‘Good Samaritan (Protection from Civil and Criminal Liabilities) and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, 2014’ was introduced in the Lok Sabha by MP Kirron Kher.
There are many different ways in which each one of us can contribute to the issue of road safety, such as volunteering with an NGO that works on road safety and ensuring that you and your peers follow traffic rules. We encourage you to contribute towards making our roads safer and saving more lives every year.