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Road Accidents: Telecom, Media & Technology To The Rescue

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According to the ministry of road transport and highways, India has second largest road network in the world, 4.7 million kms of roads, 3.1 million kms of highways, 159.5 million vehicles and Rs 1338.4 billion transport revenue.
The production of automobile has increased exponentially throughout the years. With growing number of vehicles and unavailability of quality roads, traffic congestion is a huge setback for the growth of India. Almost 80 per cent of vehicles use urban roads and highways every day.

Challenges For Commuters In India

Lack Of Quality Infrastructure
Lack of infrastructure is a big hurdle in growth. Apart from some National and State highways, roads are poorly built and planned - not able to withstand different weathers. Lack of requisite focus and delays in road infrastructure projects decreases throughput of the highways. Insufficient flyovers or tunnels to bypass busy roads in cities cause congestion and chaos on the roads.

Road Density
Though India has 2nd largest road network but the road density (124 kms of road per 100 sq km of area) is an area of concern. The road density is also highly irregular in different states of India.

According to the World Health Organization, the death rate per 100,000 populations for road traffic accident has increased from 16.8 in 2009 to 18.9 in 2013. This is very high compared to high income countries - where it is 8.9. 51 per cent of the road accident victims are among economically productive 25-65 age group in India. Most of the roads in India are shared by all types of commuters - trucks, busses, bicycles, pedestrians, bullock carts and even stray animals. 93 per cent of automobile crashes in the world occur due to human error.

Lack Of Awareness
Indian drivers are not properly trained regarding the rules and regulations of the road. This causes congestion as well as accidents on roads. Most people don't use services like carpooling and public transport.

Public Transportation Nuisances

People prefer their own vehicles in urban India due to the lack of trust and discipline in and availability of quality public transportation. More personal vehicles on the roads cause more traffic and congestion.

Technology, media and telecom can help address many of these challenges.

Telecommunication along with electronics can be of great help and is being used widely worldwide to minimize problems on the roads.

Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS can give information on the shortest route, weather, traffic, etc. For GPS to be successful in India, it should come with more local language voice assistance and more dynamic algorithm to provide information.

Mobile devices: Ford's Sync and Toyota's Entune are implementing special apps in the carsas well as on mobile devices, which will dynamically provide road information to the commuters while driving.In projects like"Smart city", information on traffic, alternate routing, parking, etc. is beamed to the smartphones used by the commuters.

Car-pooling: Start-ups like CommuteEasy provide a platform for people in the same locality for carpooling. A person can avail the service by using a mobile app, which would reducenumber of vehicles, pollution and traffic congestion on the road.

Near Field Communication (NFC) & Radio-frequency identification (RFID):
NFC is a latest technology used in smartphones that can help in paying the toll or parking ticket. The transaction will happen automatically from the registered user's account and hence throughput can be increased easily. In case of RFID, the vehicle will carry a RFID tag and can be identified easily while passing through a toll booth or parking area.

Media can be of great help in India in a different way altogether. Proper regulation, security and awareness can help in reducing accidents and improving the traffic.

Awareness Camps: These camps can be held in different localities in urban as well as rural areas frequently to make people aware of the traffic rules like lane discipline, speed limits, seat belts, air bags, etc. that can be used while travelling.

Focus On Public Transport:
Media can promote using public transport on billboards, digital signage and special days like Bus Day.

Social Media:
Applications in social media where commuters can share the traffic situation in different parts of the city will help other commuters to choose a better route and avoid congestion.Media can play a crucial role in educating the drivers about road safety and traffic rules through broadcasting useful messages and advertisements through innovative use of social media.

Technology has changed the world most effectively and roads cannot be left behind. There are many examples of how technology can help in reducing the congestion on roads.

Toll Collection:
There are basically 3 types of toll-collection methods: Manual Toll Collection, Automatic Toll Collection and Electronic Toll Collection. In India Manual Toll Collection method is widely used which is time consuming and contributes hugely to traffic congestion. Electronic Toll Collectionautomatically identifies the vehicle by some valid encoded data tag like RFID or NFC as it moves through a toll lane or a check point. The transaction happens directly with the vehicle owner's account online. This is the most efficient method of all.

Dynamic Routing: The traffic control should equip with efficient algorithm to provide a dynamic routing solution. The waiting time should be dynamic depending upon the traffic, the hour of the day etc. Traffic can be re-routed during the busy hours automatically. A lane should be made exclusive when there are school buses, a VIP escort or an ambulance on road.
Gaming:Game based driving simulators are used in western countries to enhance learning in driving rules and clearing tests for license.

Driverless Cars:
Driverless cars can reduce the accidents caused by human errors - sharp accelerated or braking, distracted or drunk. Some of the states in US have legalised the use of autonomous cars which will bring next revolution in automobiles.

Technology, media and telecomsectors can provide several solutions for solving problems of traffic congestion and accidents. Government can help in reducing the cost of these technologies by providing appropriate incentives and subsidies to the manufacturers.Physical and virtual connectivity should be one of thekey focus areas for the Government.

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