Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras Madras) today (11th October 2022) hosted a National Scientific Road Safety Conclave with the participation of stakeholders from the industry and Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India .
The event also included the launch of a hackathon to develop a system to improve road safety and a prototype licencing regime for those seeking to apply for driving licences.
Addressing the inaugural session, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Road safety is getting collaborative with technology. However each road, each region, city has its own DNA. To create such a scenario in a simulator is the biggest challenge. Training drivers is the most important thing in road safety and school bus drivers is a good start. Children see them driving the most and are impacted by it.”
Addressing the event, Shri. Vinit Wankhede, Additional Director General of Police and Chairperson, Special Task Force on Road Safety (STF–RS), Tamil Nadu, said, “Road engineering has to come back and perform its central role in road safety i.e we need IRC standards compliant safe roads. Enforcement has to move beyond statistics and become scientific in order to meaningful impact on violations whose dimensions are currently overwhelming. Technology has to be implemented in manner which yields results on ground. IIT and Tamil Nadu police are laying the groundwork for Scientific Enforcement. Hopefully it will start yielding results in near future.”
The key outcomes from the event included:
Ø Launch of a new driver licencing process called ‘3 Gate Licencing’ (3GL) that provides an objective way of measuring driver behaviour, their knowledge of road safety and driving etiquette to practice the learnt theory in a simulator and on-road driving conditions before getting a valid driving licence.
Ø Launch of a Hackathon to develop a system to improve road safety by alerting traffic violators and helping the enforcement agencies detect the offenders with use of technological solutions.
Ø Flagging off a ‘Train the Trainer’ programme for school bus drivers with a planned outcome where young people at an impressionable age learn about road safety and carry forward the message.
Ø Sharing of the experience of the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force on the scientific enforcement approach to road safety jointly being undertaken by IIT Madras and the Tamil Nadu Government.
Sharing his thoughts while flagging off the ‘Train the Trainer’ program, Shri. Shankar Jiwal, Commissioner of Police, Chennai, said, “We tend to project fatalities. We must also look at injuries that lead to permanent maiming. Enforcement, while important in Road Safety loses value after a point. It only works when there is a deterrent. A potential road user’s history must be vetted before issuing a driving licence.”
Highlighting the importance of such events, Prof Venkatesh Balasubramanian, Head, CoERS and Professor, RBG Labs, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras, said, “Driving is not a right but a privilege. The proposed 3 Gate Licencing (3GL) system includes testing for driver knowledge and physiological fitness to drive in the 1st Gate, simulator-based evaluation in the 2nd Gate and on-road evaluation as 3rd Gate.
This will ensure that first time learner is thoroughly educated on knowledge and skills in a safe, simulated environment. Comprehensive skill building is essential for a person to be qualified to have the privilege of a driver.”
A panel discussion on Driving Behaviour and Road Safety was held. The panel touched on several points, but came to the conclusion that training systems needed to be upgraded, with a level of regulation similar to that of airline pilots. An attitude change would be required and violators would have to be penalised ruthlessly. In case of large fleets, a proper rostering system would help reduce fatigue.
A second panel discussion took place on New–Age Driver Training. The panel discussion different ways to change the licencing regime in India. Some ideas discussed included better –designed curricula for school children, gamification of driver training to help younger people learn faster and a rewarding mechanism for good drivers.