WRI and UL Partner to Address the Road Safety Crisis in India

The Challenge

Every day around the world, over 3,000 people die from road crashes alone, and half of the victims are vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, pedestrians, and individuals living with a disability (source: ULSafetyIndex LINK https://ulsafetyindex.org/). In India, 150,000 lives are lost on a yearly basis with 17 of those lives lost every hour due to transportation injuries. Injuries from public bus transportation is a large part of the problem. Nearly 70 million passengers in India rely on bus transportation every day. For people with low and middle-income backgrounds, public buses are the only feasible mode of transportation and per the National Crime Records Bureau India saw nearly 3,681 deaths and 14,295 injuries due to accidents involving government buses.

Given the importance that public transportation plays in India, UL and the World Resources Institute (WRI) began work to launch a project focused on improving the safety of bus fleets in India. This work coalesced into a unique partnership, in March 2015, WRI and UL forged to assess and address the road safety crisis in India. The partnership was focused on achieving two objectives: to develop small-scale focused interventions that can demonstrate change and to eventually scale-up these interventions to achieve lasting and far-reaching impact. They set forth a guiding project objective: To work towards reducing bus road crashes in India by adopting a multi-level intervention which is evidence-based, focusing on preventive strategies that will enable large-scale impact.

The Approach

WRI is a global research organization working towards sustaining natural resources – the foundation of economic opportunity and human well being. Working in more than 50 countries, WRI applies a threefold approach in their global work. Count It: start with data, communicate findings; Change It: work with leaders, set clear objectives and be accountable; and Scale It: identify and overcome barriers to change, work with coalitions of remarkable leaders.

WRI and UL broke the program’s strategy into three key areas of interventions: Engineering and Technology; Processes and Policies; and Communication. Between 2015 and 2018, the partnership analyzed the crash data from ten city and state level bus agencies, convened stakeholders from government, non-profit, and corporate sectors in India to deliberate on reducing road traffic deaths, as well as implemented retrofitted bus safety accessory interventions. These engineering and technological solutions included retrofitting standard sized mirrors to improve the visibility of drivers in tandem with upgrading driving training programs relevant to more modern road systems.

Moving forward, the program is looking to scale research across more sites in India and to implement driver training and performance tracking at both local and national levels. With bus crashes primarily affecting pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and passengers targeted communication campaigns are planned. Social media platforms, public service announcements, radio talk shows with key stakeholders and safety experts as well as the passenger information systems in the buses will be employed to reach this vulnerable group.