IRF’s letter noted that perhaps one reason India’s efforts to identify blackspots has failed to improve road safety outcomes is because of the ad-hoc approach.

The International Road Federation (IRF), the Geneva-based global body working for better and safer roads worldwide, has written to road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari urging him to circulate the scientific guidelines developed by the Indian Road Congress (IRC) for identifying and treating the blackspots in the country.

“The blackspots / grey spots removal from the road network definitely makes for a distinct and measurable difference in the road safety outcome in the states as measured through their accident / crash data records. However, the present ongoing blackspot programme delivered till date is without any appropriate scientific guidelines for investigation and rectification being used by the field officers of MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL,” said K.K. Kapila, President, Emeritus, International Road Federation, in his letter to Gadkari.

“All countermeasures – short term, medium term and long term – adopted by the field officers assigned to remove blackspots are totally ad-hoc without any basis of scientific investigation for the blackspot / grey spot, uniformly across the country.” “The blackspot programme of the Government is going on since 2015, when the first list of blackspots were issued by MoRTH, and after six years we have still not been able to make a difference in the country’s road safety outcome in terms of number of accidents/road crashes recorded year on year. One reason perhaps is the ad-hoc approach of tackling the blackspots. Lot of efforts and resources were expended without deriving commensurate benefits.” said Kapila.

He said that a recent communication by the Union MoRTH minister to all Regional Officers and Project Directors of MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL to accelerate improvement of road safety situation in the country by removal of all blackspots/grey spots is a serious effort towards maximizing the benefits of removing them. But at present, the corrective measures including structural changes with extensive use of the Road Safety Engineering are not giving the desired results due to the non-scientific approach adopted by field officers of the various road sector agencies.

The letter mentions that the Scientific Committee of the Indian Roads Congress has already developed and finalised Guidelines for Rectification of blackspots after approval of various committees.

These guidelines, IRF said, are required to be urgently released as electronic copies to all the three concerned agencies, viz. MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL to enable faster dissemination to all their field officials. Besides this, it may also be uploaded on all the concerned Websites which will help in tackling the blackspots and grey spots in a scientific manner, in line with the IRC Guidelines. For effective usage of the Guidelines, the field engineers should be imparted a short 3-4 hours training on the procedure to get the addressal of the blackspots done appropriately, Added Kapila.

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