P. K. Sikdar, President, Intercontinental Consultants & Technocrats Pvt Ltd.
Enforcement is an important element of overall strategy for road safety as it strives to control the behaviour of the road users by ensuring compliance to the rules. The scientifically developed and implemented enforcement methods are already proven in many countries to be helpful in influencing the behavioural changes of the road users. While such changes sought through education and campaign may take much longer, the technology based enforcement actions with awareness campaign, have many successful examples of improvement in safety outcomes. By implementing a modern enforcement system using an Advance Traffic Management System (ATMS), for real-time monitoring the operations round the clock based on available technologies, is bound to show a definite declining trend in violation of road rules, and therefore, in road accidents. Therefore, the primary objective of a technology based enforcement should largely be to achieve better level of safety in the network.
Accidents or road crashes are multi-factor events, where one or more of the road users fail to cope with the road or traffic environment, and a large number of those are due to behavioural trait of the road users with some errant behaviour. A significant number of road users in India are found to be behaving irresponsibly and dominating the road traffic environment, which actually cause the accidents. India has the worst road safety performance globally with road accident fatalities of over 150,000 and injuries for about 500,000 people every year, many of which lead to permanent disabilities.
Only 5% of the total 6.2 million kilometres of roads in India are National Highways and State Highways including a few Expressways, which together carries about 80% of the network traffic and contributing more than 60% of the fatalities due to road accidents. Traffic enforcement is the responsibility of State police. But, as there is no separate enforcing unit of the State Police Departments for the highways, there is hardly any enforcement system working for the highways for the unsafe behaviours like overspeeding, non-use of seatbelts and helmets, wrong-way driving, and so on. The patrolling units of the toll operator can only identify these violations, but they do not have the authority for enforcement. Therefore, a rigorous enforcement system (capturing 100% of all violations) using modern technologies like sensors and cameras shall have to be implemented for round the clock enforcement, which will have the long term impact of modifying the road use behaviours, while initially recording all violations in real time basis for imposing penalties.
The planning and development of a modern enforcement system for implementation along the expressway/highway corridors is one of the urgent requirement in the existing situation of road safety, and especially where the highway stretch is taken up for up-gradation from a lower category of road to a higher category. Although National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has this requirement of implementing ATMS in all such cases, the systems implemented are not comprehensive and of required standard and robustness for long-term outdoor operations, as a result of which none of the highways in India has a complete ATMS working at this time satisfying all the functional requirements for enforcement, as given below.
- Over speeding (speed camera or speed sensors)
- Unsafe overtaking
- Overloading (of passenger and goods vehicles)
- Contraflow movements
- Red light jumping in traffic signals
- Pedestrian walking on road (even when footpath exists)
- Disabled vehicle (any unduly stopped/stationary vehicle)
- Animals on the road
- Illegal/wrong parking in unsafe way
- Dynamic speed reporting (feed-back sign)
- Seat-belt and helmet wearing
- Use of mobile phone while driving/riding
The technologies, which allow measurement and management of traffic on real time basis, are generally in the form of cameras and sensors deployable at various locations with reference to the network and the traffic movement pattern, which can record violations of traffic rules and specific incidents very easily round the clock without any human interventions. The various sub-systems, as parts of the ATMS, will collect information on road and traffic conditions, violations, incidents, and weather / environmental conditions and provide the necessary information (on road, traffic, incidents, weather and environment) to the road users.
The deployment of advance technologies for enforcement and incident detections can be done by a PPP contractor (a specialised agency other than the normal concessionaire/contractor for civil works), responsible for installation of equipment and their maintenance (with no or a minimum down time) for an appropriate period of concession. The arrangement could be such that the 70% of CAPEX will be paid initially on installation and operation of the complete system, and the remaining CAPEX along with maintenance charges shall be paid quarterly during the concession period. Such implementation arrangement will ensure guaranteed services of ATMS for a long time with all the required objectives as follows:
- Smooth and uninterrupted traffic flow
- Enhance road safety
- Incident detection and action initiation
- Real time information and guidance to road users
- Emergency assistance round the clock
- Alerts for abnormal road and weather conditions
- Reduced journey time and inconvenience