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Towards safer, accident-free roads

With the help of road accident data management system, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has significantly reduced number of accidents on its roads

The number of registered vehicles on the Indian state of Tamil Nadu’s roads has gone up by almost 40% – from 8.2 million in 2007 to 13 million in 2010. With more vehicles on the streets and little demarcation of lanes for those travelling at different speeds, road accidents in the state were rising. This was compounded by poor road conditions, little driver education, and poor enforcement of traffic rules. To improve road safety, data was needed on the most frequent causes of accidents and the most accident-prone locations. The paper-based First Information Report (FIR) process was not effective as it lacked important information, was cumbersome, and generated a heavy back log of work at police stations. Moreover, actions bet ween the key departments involved in road traffic management — police, highways, transport — were not coordinated, resulting in piecemeal efforts to improve road safety.

Road accident data management system
The first step to improve road safety was the development of a comprehensive database on which appropriate road safety measures could be based. Accordingly, as part of its Road Safety Action Plan, the state engaged an international road safety consultant to develop a comprehensive bi-lingual software package to collect, analyse and generate crucial reports on road accidents on a day-to-day basis. Major stakeholders such as the police, transport and highways departments were involved in the software’s development.

In 2009, an easy-to-use software known as the Road Accident Data Management System (RADMS) was developed. Its uniform, intuitive screens make it one of the simplest systems to use. After visiting the accident site, the police person on duty logs onto the system’s website at the police station and enters the details of the accident into a simple online Accident Record Form. The details of each accident include the registration numbers of the vehicles involved, the number of people involved in the accident, the number of fatalities, the severity of injuries, the exact location and condition of the road, whether helmets and/or seat belts were being used or not, the levels of intoxication, if at all, of the driver, the type of accident – whether head-on or from the rear, etc. The system has made the cumbersome paper-based FIR reporting process a thing of the past.

RADMS was developed with the help of an international consultant, under the World Bank-supported Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project. The GIS-based RADMS software geographically maps all road accidents that take place on Tamil Nadu’s national and state highways, as well as on urban and district roads. The system identifies the most accident-prone spots and displays crash trends and other information at the click of a mouse. The RADMS software, developed after detailed consultations between the police, transport and highways departments, has been helping the authorities analyse the ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ of road accidents, and enabling them to plan and implement remedial measures. In the two years since the system has been operational, nearly 3,000 accident-prone spots have been identified. The implementation of road safety measures based on this analytical data has brought down the number of accident fatalities in Tamil Nadu, from 13.39 for every 10,000 vehicles in 2006 to 10.09 in 2010, exceeding the targets set by the state.

The RADMS software, developed at a cost of Rs 22 million (about $500,000), has been deployed at all the state’s 1,400 police stations and personnel at each station have been trained in its use. While similar software was first used in Kerala, Tamil Nadu is the first state to deploy it extensively. The software is constantly being improved. It is planned to provide each police station with a hand-held GPS device to enable personnel to enter the details at the accident site itself. It is also planned to link the system with medical facilities across the state for quick attention to accident victims. The creation of a national road accident database along these lines can help to markedly improve road safety across the country.

Accident analysis
R ADMS is supported by a powerful analysis engine that enables the authorities to identify high-densit y accident locations and generate automatic vehicle collision diagrams. This is designed to assist road safet y engineers in improving the safety of roads and intersections.

  • Kilometer analysis helps in analysing accidents along a selected stretch of road.
  • Grid analysis looks at the frequency of accidents in a specified area and identifies accident hotspots.
  • Cluster analysis provides an analysis of the density and severity of accidents in selected areas.
  • Monitor sites analysis provides a visual comparison of the severity of accidents on selected sites. It also generates reports and graphs showing the effect of remediation measures.
  • Collision diagram analysis helps in analysing the general pattern of accidents in select locations, usually junctions.
  • Corridor analysis locates high-crash concentrations within a corridor.
  • Link node analysis helps in analysing accidents occurring bet ween any two nodes in the road network and is used when no maps are available to enter accident details.
  • Safety benefit evaluations study the effectiveness of remedial measures to reduce accidents.
  • Stick analysis gives a pictorial representation of accidents along a number of parameters.