Safer roads for a greener, more sustainable environment
Road accidents vs Environment:
- In 2021, India reported 4,03,116 crashes, each of which adversely impacted the environment in various ways and in different degrees.
- Most vehicles contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium or hexavalent chromium, which are detrimental to the environment.
- Fuel and fluid leaks are seen at crash sites.
- Severe road crashes lead to automobile wreckage, which becomes a part of unusable end-of-life vehicles.
- India is estimated to have about 22.5 million end-of-life vehicles by 2025.
- India’s National Automobile Scrappage Policy, launched in 2021, is still in its nascent stages.
- With the absence of widespread, systematic facilities dedicated to their proper recycling, vehicles after road crashes as well as old end-of-life automobiles are left to rot by the wayside.
- Some end up at landfills or at informal recycling facilities where rudimentary hand tools are utilised to unscientifically dismantle them.
- This leads to the leakage of hazardous constituents such as oils, coolants and glass wool.
- Vehicle landfills turn into automobile graveyards leading to wasteful and sub-optimal land usage and water and soil pollution for decades.
Speeding vs Accidents:
- In 2020 alone, speeding was responsible for 91,239 road crash fatalities, comprising 69.3% of all road crash deaths registered.
- Speeding has consistently been responsible for over 60% of all road crash fatalities in India in the last five years.
Speeding vs Environment:
- Simulation exercises in Europe have shown that reducing speed limits by 10 km/h can deliver 12% to 18% fuel savings for passenger cars.
- This move can also provide a significant reduction in pollutant emissions, particularly Nitrogen Oxides and particulate matter (PM) output, from diesel vehicles.
- A similar study conducted in Amsterdam demonstrated that where the speed limit was lowered from 100 km/h to 80 km/h, PM reduced by up to 15%.
- Studies also show that highway speed limits of 96.5 km/h are 25% more efficient than limits of 120 km/h, in which case wind resistance leads to more fuel consumption.