Taking a cue from the success of pulse polio campaign by Amitabh Bachchan, Union Minister of Road, Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari is planning to rope in Bollywood celebrity Aamir Khan for piloting its road safety awareness programme.
"Recently, I approached actor Aamir Khan to support our road safety awareness programmes in the country and he agreed to support the cause," said Gadkari. In India, the total number of road accidents has increased from 486,476 in 2013 to 489,400 in 2014. Fatalities also rose from 137,572 in 2013 to 139,671 in 2014.
Khan known as Bollywood's "Mr Perfectionist" commands huge fan-following. In the recent past, he was also appointed as the UNICEF brand ambassador for nutrition and child rights. In addition to this, he is also the brand ambassador for Incredible India and women and child development.
Officials said Aamir Khan would participate in various road safety awareness programmes of the ministry and would feature in the ad campaign. Besides the campaign, Gadkari stressed on the need of educating school children on road safety by having a chapter related to road safety and cartoons.
"Out of global 1.24 million deaths due to road accidents India accounts for about 1.5 lakh deaths, the highest in the world, resulting in heavy loss, which a developing country like India can ill-afford," he said, while addressing the ninth regional conference of International Road Federation.
The roads ministry, on its part, is working on improving road engineering, converting two lane roads into four lane, improving quality and adding safety features on roads and identifying and reducing fatal road accident spots and developing pedestrian crossings and under passes, said Gadkari.
An amended Motor Vehicles Act is on the anvil but Gadkari said vested interests were stalling enactment of the new law.
The government is also planning to establish the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board, an apex body to address all road safety-related issues, by end of this year. The proposed board will help in the development and regulation of road safety, traffic management system and safety standards in highway design and construction.
"The board will have overarching powers to seek explanation and issue directions to both the government and private agencies on all issues relating to road safety," said, Vijay Chhibber, secretary, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways.
With 80 per cent of all road deaths worldwide estimated in low income countries, India leads the world in road accident deaths, with around 1,40,000 people being killed each year.
India accounts for 10 per cent of global road accident deaths. Safer roads and mobility is one of the five pillars of the UN Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. The pillar emphasises the need to raise the inherent safety and protective quality of road networks for the benefit of all road users.