In a first, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) will establish a National Road Safety Code for national highways (NHs), expressways, state highways (SHs) and major district roads (MDRs), specifying the safety benchmarks in engineering, construction, enforcement and emergency care.
Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told TOI that a base document has been prepared for consultations among experts to come up with standards for all aspects of road safety. “Soon we will have detailed deliberations on all these aspects with the sectoral experts. The focus is to have a standard that caters to our needs and that the compliance of standards result in major reduction in crashes, fatalities and injuries,” he added.
Sources said the government’s focus is on the NHs, SHs and MDRs considering that the major share of crashes and fatalities are reported on these networks. For example, only the NHs and SHs networks have nearly 60% of the total road deaths in India despite constituting barely 5% of the entire road network in the country. In 2021, the road crashes on NHs and SHs claimed 92,655 lives out of the total 1.57 lakh fatalities. The crashes and fatalities are high on these stretches because of the huge volume of traffic and also the scope of speeding.
Though the road-owning agencies in India follow the codes published by the Indian Road Congress (IRC), these only deal with the engineering aspect and currently there is no uniform standard for enforcement and emergency care. The standard would take into account the risk factors on Indian roads.