Over 11,000 children below the age of 18 were killed in road crashes in 2019 in India, revealed the data provided by the Ministry of Roads Transport and Highways (MoRTH),
While the nation celebrates Children’s Day every year on 14 November, there are some starling facts revealed in a survey that how vulnerable are the children while travelling to their schools, colleges due to poor road planning and poor traffic behaviour.
According to the MoRTH, Indian roads reported over 30 deaths daily, with a 7.4% contribution to the total road crash deaths. Children face a high degree of risk while commuting to and from school due to poor road planning, limited enforcement and poor traffic behaviour
Recently, a national study by SaveLIFE Foundation highlighted the gaps in road safety for children. The study reviews the existing status of school transport together with bringing out the challenges and areas of improvement.
The study conducted after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, analyses responses from 11,845 respondents, including 5,711 children (of classes 6-12) and 6,134 parents (with children in classes 1-12) across 14 cities in India with the intent of gathering insights across age-groups and geographies to inform how we can improve the road safety of children while they commute to school.
The cities surveyed include Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna, Pune, and Vijayawada.
According to the NGO, some of the key findings include 47% of the surveyed respondents using school transport admitted to their school vehicles not being equipped with seat belts.
While 34% of the respondents using two-wheelers surveyed had not ensured their child that they were wearing a helmet while commuting via two-wheelers.
Besides, 30% of children witnessed a crash during their commute to school, while 6% of them were themselves involved in a road crash or a near-miss situation during their commute to and from school.
“This finding is significant given over 30 children lose their lives on India’s roads every day,” reveals the survey report.
Additionally, more than half of the parents surveyed stated that school authorities took no action on the safety concerns reported to the school authorities.
“These issues included overcrowding in school vehicles, congestion near the school, and over-speeding by drivers in the school zone,” stated the survey.
47% of the surveyed respondents whose child who cycled to school reported no cycling paths en route or even around the school. 30% of those whose children who walked to school reported missing footpaths around the school zone.
The study has proposed some programs to build awareness among parents to equip them to ensure that schools adhere to safety norms.
Commenting on the same, Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation said, “As of date, over 25 states and Union Territories have announced the reopening of schools. While there is a vaccine for COVID, the vaccine for child deaths on our roads is really our collective action.”
He further said, “Our findings through this report have once again emphasised that the right to a safe commute to school is as important as the right to education itself. A comprehensive national and state school transport safety policy can ensure that.”