Issue of Road Safety and the Environmental sustainability
Toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, or hexavalent chromium are used in vehicle manufacturing, and these are harmful to the environment. Looking at the environmental impact of vehicle accidents, Fuel and fluid leakage at accident sites and serious road accidents causes grave negative impact, writes Priyanka Saurabh
After the road calamity, the vehicles becomes unusable with end of end-of-life. Many governments around the world have reduced speed limits to prevent accidents and reduce air pollution. Many other options have emerged, like Zero-fatality corridor solution In India, the Zero-fatality corridor solution for road safety by Save Life Foundation (SLF). These solutions focus on the environmental sustainability seriously.
In 2021, India reported total of 4,03,116 accidents. Each of these adversely affected the environment in different ways and to the varying degrees. It concerns us beause roads are the leading mode of transport in terms of share in overall traffic and contribution to the national economy. The expansion of road networks, motorization, and urbanization has further complicated the probem and has led to an increase in road accident deaths.
The major causes of road accidents, as suggested by the exper in road safety are the negligence and exposure to over-speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, etc..Also, talking on mobile phones, and overloading to save the cost of transportation have resulted in road casualties.
Lack of awareness, neglecting the importance of safety features like airbags, anti-lock braking systems,, inadequate signaling also are the main causes of road accidents. If we talk in term of points, over-speeding is the cause of 69.3 (sixty-nine point three)% of deaths. 30.1 (thirty point one)% of the deaths occurred due to not wearing a helmet while riding a two-wheeler. About11.5 (eleven point five)% of deaths happened due to the non-use of seatbelts.
Now, looking at thel impact of vehicle accidents on environment, it is a real issue. Industril norms says that the vehicles contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, or hexavalent chromium. These are very harmful for the environment if left unattended. Fuel and fluid leakage at accident sites and serious road accidents caused by the automobile wreckage is another major concern.
A National Automobile Scrappage Policy was brought in 2021 by the government. This policy lacks the provision of comprehensive, systematic facilities dedicated to proper recycling for the vehicles damaged in accidents. After road accidents,vehicles are left to rot on the roadside, in landfills, or at informal recycling facilities where basic hand tools are used to destroy them unscientifically. This leads to the leakage of dangerous components such as oil, coolant, and glass wool in open. Vehicle landfills further turn into automobile cemeteries leading to a wasteful and sub-optimal land use. This results in water and soil pollution.
Studies suggest, lowering the motorway speed limit by 10 km/h could result in 12% to 18% fuel savings for current technology passenger cars and the total number of road accidents. A significant reduction in pollutant emissions from diesel vehicles, especially nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM) production, has resulted where the speed limit was reduced from 100 km/h to 80 km/h,
If the speed limit is kept at 96.5 (ninety-six point five) km/h it is 25% more efficient than the 120 km/h speed limit. Higher the speed, more the air resistance, hence more fuel consumption. There is another good example. The Zero-fatality Corridor (ZFC) program on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, started way back in 2016 helped bring down road accident and resulting deaths by 52% by 2020. Also, it helped reducing the road accident deaths on this stretch by 61% by 2021.
Many governments in the world have reduced speed limits to prevent accidents and reduce air pollution. Creating green corridors to go over forests and animal tracks instead of passing through them is suggested as a viable green solution.
There are few more suggestions. Guarding natural hard structures such as trees by using crash barriers to prevent head-on collisions is one of them, Placing retro-reflective signage on trees to make them more visible to passers-by, and can help in reducing collisions. Use of aluminum composite panels instead of asbestos to manufacture signage can reduce polluting materials. And finally, the Safe roads and a sustainable environment can be ensured only with the combined efforts of road-owning agencies, enforcement officials, and the public together.
- Priyanka Saurabh is a Research Scholar. She is pursuing research in the feild of Political Science. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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