A number of startups are attempting to work on road safety by offering a whole bunch of features on web and mobile applications, right from minimising driver distractions to preventing collisions.
A whopping 4,64,910 road accidents were reported in India in 2017 leading to the death of 1,47,913 people, according to the Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. This translates to three people dying every ten minutes on Indian roads.
Most of these accidents can be attributed to over speeding, use of mobile phones while driving, drunken driving, jumping traffic signals and avoiding safety gear as per the study published on the Open Government Data (OGD) platform.
With the view to increase the level of awareness among motorists, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced the observance of Road Safety Week February 4-10, 2019. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Sadak Suraksha - Jeevan Raksha’.
Joining the government in its endeavour to ensure safe roads, the startup community of India is also attempting to make roads safer using technology. These companies are diving deep into different factors that cause road accidents to come up with solutions for road safety.
Also Read: Road safety starts with you and me
Distractive driving at the helm
It’s common to see people texting or talking over the phone while driving a vehicle in India. They know it’s not safe, but continue to do it.
Keeping this in mind, Pallav Singh, Ayan and Jasmeet Singh Sethi floated Kruzr, which uses motion sensors to detect when a user is driving and locks the phone screen. But that’s not all. The app also handles calls as well as messages through an in-built chatbot, which interacts with the person on the other end and informs them that the user is driving.
Co-founder Pallav Singh says,
“Most of the road accidents that take place in our country can be prevented. Based on our research we are developing a voice assistant for drivers to provide timely intervention using predictive analysis and algorithms. We are also collaborating with insurance companies to help users reduce claims, and at the same time, provide contextual data to insurers to understand their customers better."
Dodging potholes and bad roads
Driving on Indian roads is not easy. People have to maneuver through traffic and also road humps and potholes. Potholes caused 9,423 accidents and killed 3,597 people in 2017, according to the research wing of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
The Raksha SafeDrive device offers a solution for this. The device was designed to help make the external ecosystem safe while driving.
“The device could be attached using a Velcro to the car after which, it could be used to detect crashes. The device was used to alert drivers about road humps, bad roads and crossing speed limits,” says Jayanth Jagadeesh, Co-founder, Raksha SafeDrive.
In one-and-a-half years of beginning operations, Raksha SafeDrive sold about 1500 devices. It has shut down operations currently in an effort to pivot towards a mobile-only platform. “Bad driving behaviour contributes to most of the road fatalities in India. Hence, Raksha SafeDrive aims to make smart road safety platforms a reality,” Jayanth told YourStory.
Handling emergency situations and vehicle breakdowns
Safely Home is an app that comes in handy during emergency situations. It sends out an alert to the police, ambulance as well as the user’s emergency contacts in case of a road accident. Another highlight of Safely Home is the ‘Save a Life’ feature, which allows anybody who sees an accident to report it on the app by uploading a photograph and tagging the location of the mishap.
Also Read: Want less traffic? Learn to drive, first!
Ishan Jindal, Founder of Safely Home, says,
“Eighty percent of the people who meet with an accident do not get help in the first one hour. Safely Home was started with the objective of providing assistance to those people. The app has about 3,340 downloads so far and has provided aid to hundreds during emergency situations. We are also looking at opportunities where we can collaborate with other apps and social media platforms to help save more lives."
The app can also detect road crashes by monitoring speed and momentum using location tracking. The most important feature is the roadside assistance feature that Safely Home extends for issues like vehicle breakdowns, dearth of fuel, by showing the nearest grease monkeys, petrol stations, among others.
Reckless driving on the rise
Reckless driving includes ignoring lane discipline, overtaking another vehicle from the wrong direction,
Mahesh Gidwani and his wife had a tough time looking for a reliable driving school. They found that the quality of training at most schools was substandard. Drivekool was born to resolve this issue by offering an app that brings together driving schools and customers.
The app has a layer of safety to its offering by verifying and screening all the driving schools before taking them onboard. Once the customer signs up with a school, the details of the trainer, vehicle, time of pick up and location is sent. The app also tracks the number of kilometres driven by the customer, the number of right, left, and U-turns practised, as well as the speed limit. “The Drivekool platform is attempting to dish out safe drivers in the country, which is definitely the need of the hour,” says Mahesh Gidwani, Founder and CEO, Drivekool.
The drunken driving ruckus
It was in the year 2007 when the Mumbai Traffic Police cracked down on drunk drivers across the city. Party Hard Drivers was started just about the same time. It provides chauffeurs who are trained and reliable so that people do not have to take to the wheel after a night of drinking.
“People should realise that roads cannot be taken lightly especially when they are in an intoxicated state. The motto of Party Hard Drivers is to reduce the number of drunk and drive cases by helping people get home safe and sound," says Ankur Vaid, Co-founder, Party Hard Drivers.
In addition to providing drivers at night, the team has extended its services during the day as well as for outstation trips. While the rate card after 7 pm for three hours is Rs 600, the cost comes up to Rs 850 for eight hours in the morning. Overtime charges after the designated number of hours need to be paid for.
Road safety of utmost importance
Safeguarding oneself from injury or death is a natural instinct. However, when it comes to driving a car or riding a motorcycle, sometimes, safety is not taken seriously by Indian commuters.
Averting road accidents is of utmost importance since the statistics still remain alarming with three people losing their lives every ten minutes. The startup community’s contribution in this regard is therefore welcome.
This article was a part of the Road Safety Week series, where SocialStory discussed the multiple interventions required to make the Indian roads safer for the citizens.