Challenging the conventional approach to road crash investigation, a ‘road safety court’ was inaugurated in Faridabad on Friday. It was like any other court session, going over the problem points, but instead of assigning blame, it focused on understanding structural lapses. It’s a new approach, realigning the way in which road accidents are investigated.
“Police, prosecutors and judicial officers need to be made aware of the best practices in dealing with accident cases. From lodging FIRs to maintaining case diaries, the entire exercise puts the blame on the driver with no examination of the role of road engineers and authorities maintaining the stretch,” said Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), which organized the ‘court’.
The court will take up real cases, going over each with a data-led approach. “It will be a complete enactment of a case, with recommendations by forensic science experts and road safety experts,” Baluja said. There will be a judge, prosecution, defence, police officials — all elements of any regular court proceeding.
On Friday, Puducherry lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi presided over the session, part of an ongoing international workshop on ‘Dangers in Road Usage’. The first case she took up was that of a bus accident in Himachal Pradesh.
The bus driver had been booked for causing death due to negligence.
The case was revisited — FIRs had mentioned road design flaws and violation of road safety norms. The money spent on designing and maintaining the road came up, as did the many red flags raised about it prior to the accident. The judgment changed — instead of the driver, road engineers and authorities were held responsible for negligence.
The intervention may be warranted. Road safety experts and traffic engineers have, time and again, argued that poor illumination, lack of proper signage boards, flawed design of intersections and underpasses, poor enforcement, incongruous city planning and lack of scientific investigation of the accidents exacerbates the problem.
“We have done our bit. Now, it depends on political will. We have an MoU with the Haryana government and have adopted NH-44. We will bring about systemic changes there to set an example,” Baluja said.
As many as 14 people lost their lives in road accidents every day in Haryana last year, while 30 sustained injuries. Haryana Police has identified 179 accident-prone areas in the state.Source: TOI