Reaffirming its commitment to road safety in India, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) announced its partnership with Diageo India for the launch of the first of its kind ‘Road To Safety – Towards Responsible Youth’ Programme for university students in collaboration with the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), said a press statement.
Owing to lack of structured training programmes, novice young drivers are twice as likely as adult drivers to be caught in fatal crashes and road accidents. This unique public private partnership attempts to bring a formal and structured training programme for university students as they apply for their learner’s license. The programme aims to reach over 500 universities across the country in the next 3 – 5 years; with the first year target being 100 programmes across 50 universities.
The country’s first-of-its-kind training programme was inaugurated by Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in the august presence of Leena Nandan, Additional Secretary, MoRTH, Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary, MoRTH together with Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer, Diageo India and Dr Rohit Baluja, President, Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE).
As per industry reports, India accounts for 12.5% (over 1,45,000 fatalities a year) of global road accidents, with 1 road accident occurring every four minutes. Alarmingly, 72% victims involved in such road mishaps are between the age groups of 15-44 years with speeding, reckless and drunk driving being the top reason accounting for 1.5% of road traffic accidents and 4.6% of fatalities. The ‘Road to Safety – Towards Responsible Youth’ Programme is a step toward addressing the grave issue of road safety by inculcating behavioural change and creating awareness about responsible driving habits among young adults. The 4-hour extensive programme is an immersive and interactive module led by senior faculty members of IRTE covering varied aspects of responsible driving including defensive driving, ill effects of driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding and wearing of helmets.
Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said, “In the recent times, we have seen an alarming rise in road fatalities especially with our youth thus making road safety of prime importance for the Government. Rash driving and lack of adequate safety measures like not wearing helmets and seat belts are some of the top factors resulting in high road accidents. With an aim to reduce road accidents by 50 percent by 2022, we are delighted to launch the first of its kind, ‘Road to Safety – Towards Responsible Youth’ Programme.”
Commenting on the initiative, Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer, Diageo India said, “We are excited to introduce, as part of Diageo’s signature “Road to Safety” campaign, a targeted intervention directed at early education of young drivers as they take to driving on India’s roads. As new drivers, our youth hold the key to India’s safer roads and it is crucial that they understand and imbibe road safety best-practices early. We are delighted at the support of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and the many Universities that will offer this program. We believe that this is another step in Diageo helping to create a national movement around road safety.”
Dr. Rohit Baluja, President, Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) said, “Our young generation are the most vulnerable on Indian roads. Every effort must be made to ensure their safety. This programme adopts the means of creating awareness amongst youth so that they become defensive road users. I stand grateful to Diageo India for their support to drive this programme across the country, and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways for their partnership and guidance.”
In its fourth year, Diageo India-IRTE have been successfully running its ‘Road to Safety’ initiative to provide capacity building training to traffic police officials and educating commercial drivers such as truckers and bus drivers and university students on the dangers of drinking and driving. Till date the programme has covered 17 states and over 64 cities and trained over 4,624 traffic officials in road safety capacity-building, educated 6,000 commercial vehicle drivers and over 5,000 university students.