Swedish bus and truck major Volvo Group is working with India’s transport authorities to suggest improvements in surface transport systems to reduce road fatalities. The exercise also involves upgrading its own vehicle range.
Over 151,000 people lost their lives to road accidents in India in 2019, more than in any other country. According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways there were nearly 450,000 accidents in the country in 2019. A little over 70 percent of these accidents were caused by overspeeding.
Tie-up with KSRTC
Volvo Group collaborated with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to collect data on a real-time basis about traffic conditions, transport ecosystems and driver behaviour. KSRTC has a significantly large concentration of Volvo buses, some of which are also used for interstate passenger transport.
The buses in operation are equipped with cameras, sensors and logging equipment, which capture the entire ecosystem outside the bus as well as the in-vehicle environment.
This data is processed in real-time as well as offline to analyse and build insights in order to characterise Indian traffic conditions as well as driver behaviour. Such real-time data will help the driver make better and safer driving choices.
“In phase 2 of this project, the bus will be further equipped with radar systems and equipment that monitors weather, air quality and various other parameters. It will also be installed in multiple vehicles,” said Kamal Bali, President, Volvo Group India.
This initiative will also link data, learnings and insights with research activities targeted at various user groups, including drivers, fleet managers, fleet operators and other stakeholders. Volvo Cars has introduced SUVs and sedans in India that can provide a 360- degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings, warn of a collision and a blind spot, and slow down the vehicle if it is nearing a school.
A SITIS initiative
The initiative involves a collaboration with SITIS (Sweden-India Transport Innovation Safety Collaboration), a group of 15 Indian and Swedish entities, which is one of the largest collaborations in the road safety arena. Indeed, this is a first-of-its-kind collaboration in India.
Autoliv, Ericsson, Manipal Hospitals, Altair, Saab, Tech Mahindra and Volvo Group, as well as universities and research institutes; India Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Chalmers University of Technology, Research Institutes of Sweden; and the technical authorities ARAI, and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) are part of SITIS.
The platform also engages with the Vision Zero Academy at the Swedish Transport Administration, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (Government of India) and NITI Aayog.
“There are millions of valuable data we have been able to collect through this initiative. We will process, analyse and study on how to improve road safety and bring down the fatality rate, which is embarrassingly high in India”, added Bali.
The US records the highest number of road accidents every year. In 2019 there were 2.21 million accidents in the US, which is nearly 5 times the number recorded in India. But despite the high incidence of accidents, the US has a fatality rate a little over one-fourth of India’s rate. In 2019 a little more than 36,000 people lost their lives to road accidents in the US against over 151,000 in India.