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Indian cities begin embracing Safe School Zones

Children fear Gurugram’s busy streets. Photo by Priyanka Sulkhlan/WRI India

Bangalore, one of India’s biggest cities, is doing its bit to embrace a global road safety movement by testing out a series of ‘Safe School Zone’ areas.

Several other cities, including Delhi and Pune, are also trialling their own versions of the programme, aimed at helping make sure children can safely use roads, and improving access for pedestrians.

A Safe School Zone includes designated roadways located near a school where extra care is needed because of increased school-related pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The zone extends up to 300 feet from the border of the school property or at least 300 feet from a school crossing.

Standard ‘school speed limit’ signs mark the beginning of a school zone and ‘end school zone’ signs indicate the end of a school zone. The zones include only areas of active school use. A sign, Slow down – School ahead, is currently displayed outside St Joseph’s High School in Bangalore.

Though already popular in the USA, Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and across Europe, some parts of Europe, the concept has been slow to get going in India, and so organisers hope these pilot projects can give it some much-needed momentum.

Schools fall under the vulnerable road user zone and according to statistics, road traffic injuries account for 37-38 per cent of deaths among 0-14-year-old category and 62-64 per cent among children in the age group of 14-18. According to India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the country has seen a consistent increase in the fatalities of school children below the age of 18; 6.4 per cent in 2017, 6.6 per cent in 2018 and 7.4 per cent in 2019.

That translates to one road related child fatality every 45 minutes, or 31 children losing their lives daily. The ‘Study on Safe Commute to School’, by SaveLIFE Foundation and Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India, says nearly 30 per cent of children have witnessed a road crash during their travel to school, while 6 per cent of them were involved in such accidents.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) India have initiated and designed a Safe School Zone at Byculla’s Mirza Ghalib Road on a pilot basis, reports Business Standard.

Safe School Zones are springing up all over the world, including the cities of Los Angeles, Glasgow, Utrecht and Sydney and Seoul, demonstrating the global reach of this ambitious programme aimed squarely at ensuring children’s safety.

Author: Simon Weedy

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