CUTTACK: The Balasore-Kharagpur Expressway is set to become the launchpad for a novel experiment aimed at reducing road accident deaths and injuries which are registering alarming rise on the highways.
The road safety project ‘Amara Jeevan Amari Haate’ will function on the principles of making highways safer through involvement of road users and empowering communities and neighbourhoods along the stretch.
The project will cover the entire 119 kms of Expressway from Balasore to Kharagpur and strive to achieve a goal of bringing down accidents by 50 per cent within one and a half years.
Being implemented by City-based Forum for Prevention of Road Accidents (FPRA) and IL&FS Transportation, the project would be rolled out by Commerce and Transport Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi on Thursday.
The Expressway has witnessed exponential increase in accidents and casualties over the years. As per data, there had been 691 accidents on the stretch from January 2013 to September 2014. The accidents had resulted in 68 deaths on the spot while 378 were grievously injured.
The most disconcerting fact is that survival rate of the grievously injured patients was less than five per cent. This has been mainly due to the delay in making first aid or treatment available to them.
The first hour after trauma, termed ‘Golden Hour’, is the most critical time. Providing first aid and proper handling of victims while rushing them to the hospital within the first hour of the accident can save a substantial number of lives.
“Our goal is to create empowered communities along the highways, who being the major road users are also first ones to be affected or respond to accidents. We would try to train them on road safety issues and accident response measures. Villages, petrol pumps, business establishments, hotels and eateries, schools and colleges along the highway will be sensitised on the issue,” said FPRA secretary Bikash Mohapatra.
The project will concentrate on 11 black spot stretches on the Expressway that would cover around 35 villages of Balasore district and West Midnapore district of West Bengal along with Balasore and Kharagpur and Laxmannath border check gate.
Along with community-level interventions, drivers and road users will also be sensitised on traffic and safety rules. Health and vision check-ups of drivers will also be organised at different points.
A major intervention would be to form Village-level Road Safety Committees for capacity building for accident prevention and quick response.
This apart, the village institutions will keep watch on the roads and report violators to the police and other authorities. They will also work as a pressure group to ensure compliance by residents of their villages.