Global road safety body IRF has urged India to become a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968) and be on par with international standards in this area.
In a letter to Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, IRF said there is a pressing need for India to be a signatory to the Convention as it accounts for 5 lakh road accidents per annum in which about 1.5 lakh people die.
"In addition to the lives lost, this also imposes a huge economic burden," said K K Kapila, Chairman, International Road Federation in the letter.
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The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is an important platform for governing traffic on roads.
"Becoming a signatory to this convention would facilitate government bodies and agencies in modifying and changing current rules and regulations to bring them in line with international standards, and thereby contribute to improving the road safety situation in India" Kapila said.
Once a signatory, he said, India will be able to make additions to the Convention and take intellectual leadership on the important topic of 'road safety'.
"One major change India can propose to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is the addition of an Article on the use of Reflective tapes for conspicuity of bicycles. Currently, there is no article in the Convention which deals with this important issue. Cyclists and pedestrians are one of the most vulnerable segment of road users globally," the letter said.
During 2014, an estimated 4,023 cyclists were killed in road accidents in India, it said, adding that in Delhi, the Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) constitute 84 per cent of road fatalities, and cyclists were 4 per cent in 2014.
"The commercial vehicle conspicuity standard of colour (red, yellow and white) for the rear, side and front respectively as per the Motor Vehicle Act 1988 has been adopted by India (which is also SIAM/international standard).
But bicycle conspicuity standards are yet to be adopted in India as well in the Vienna convention" said Kapila.
WHO, in its recent Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, specifically identified improving road safety for pedestrian and bicyclists as one of the areas deserving of additional attention - 'Making walking and cycling safer is critical to reducing the number of road traffic deaths and is important for achieving the Decade of Action for Road Safety's aim to promote non-motorized forms of transport'.