BENGALURU: While a number of states are preparing to open schools completely, a national level survey on road safety has found that an alarming 30% of children witnessed a crash during their commute to school, while 6% of them were themselves involved in a road crash or a near-miss situation during their commute to and from school.
In Bengaluru (887 respondents of which 428 are children) alone, 8% of the parents said their ward was involved in a road crash; 19% of the children reported that they had witnessed a road crash. About 44% of the children respondents reported that no action was taken. Two out of three respondents from Bengaluru said that there was road safety workshop conducted in schools.
The “National Study on Safe Commute to School” by SaveLIFE Foundation and Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India that surveys 11,845 respondents, including 5,711 children (of classes 6-12) and 6,134 parents (with children in classes 1-12) across 14 cities in India was conducted during the first national lockdown (25 March 2020 to 31 May), the interviews were conducted telephonically . The report highlights gaps in road safety for children — from lack of footpaths near school zones, to being involved in a road crash, concerns continue to plague cities and its children . Cities surveyed were Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna, Pune, and Vijayawada.
The footpath problem faced by the city was also seen captured in the survey. Of the Bengaluru students who walk to school, 79% reported that they never used retro reflective stickers and 33 percent students (national average is 30 percent) said there was no footpaths present around their school zone. Of those who cycle to school, one in three students (lesser than national average of 47%) reported that there were no cycling paths at the school zone.
Furthermore in national level survey, 34% of the respondents using two-wheelers surveyed had not ensured their child/ they were wearing a helmet while commuting via two-wheelers. While 47% of the surveyed respondents using school transport admitted to their school vehicles not being equipped with seat belts. More than half of the parents stated that school authorities took no action on the safety concerns reported. These issues include overcrowding in school vehicles, congestion near school, and over-speeding by drivers in the school zone.
SaveLIFE Foundation Founder & CEO, Piyush Tewari, said, “As of date, over 25 states and Union Territories have announced the reopening of schools. While there is a vaccine for COVID, the vaccine for child deaths on our roads is really our collective action. Our findings through this report have once again emphasised that the right to a safe commute to school is as important as the right to education itself. A comprehensive national and state school transport safety policy can ensure that.
Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI) headquartered in Bengaluru was founded in 1996 as a captive unit to support Daimler’s research, IT, and product development activities. While SaveLIFE Foundation works in partnership with government agencies, industry, and grassroots organisations, to create and advocate for regulations that eliminate unsafe driving behaviours and enforce traffic laws to protect all road users.
Manu Saale, Managing Director and CEO, MBRDI stated that “The findings from this study show unequivocally the raising need for road safety in the country. We hope that this study will help all stakeholders further extend our vision of zero casualties to all modes of road transport.”