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  Social Responsibility

Government and Policy
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 9:45 p.m.
The four-pillar awareness imperative
  • Police training for road safety. Source: Diageo

By Business India Editorial

Road safety is an unusual cause to be taken up under CSR. In the last two decades, the number of vehicles on roads has trebled along with the length of national and state highways. Unfortunately, what hasn’t kept pace is an awareness of road safety. More than 15 lakh lives have been lost in road accidents between 2005-2016.According to various government research studies, the annual economic cost of road accidents in India is estimated to be 1-2 per cent of our GDP. And this of course, doesn’t consider the emotional trauma to the families affected, which is incalculable.

Given that a major cause of road accidents is drinking and driving, alcohol maker Diageo has espoused the cause of road safety and focused its programme on four pillars: education, enforcement, emergency services and engineering. Education efforts are directed in two areas.

In partnership with the government of Uttar Pradesh and the International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI), Diageo launched a multi-media campaign in the state to curb irresponsible consumption of alcohol. This campaign consisted of public service advertising in mainstream media like print, television, radio, out-of-home media, as well as digital media. In addition to the awareness chapter, Diageo India has also partnered with Uttar Pradesh police to support them with 75 breath analysers and 1,000 emergency accident uniforms for conducting enforcement drives in the state.

The goal

The second part of education efforts was in partnership with the ministry of road transport and highways. Diageo devised the country’s first ever integrated formal training for university students seeking a learner’s licence. The goal is to reach over 500 universities across the country in the next three to five years; with the first year’s target being 100 programmes across 50 universities. In partnership with Institute of Road Traffic Education in India (IRTE), the company has also conducted driver training courses for over 6,000 commercial vehicle drivers. To aid better enforcement, working with IRTE, capacity-building workshops were conducted in 66 cities across 19 states that trained 6,100 traffic police officials. For improving emergency services, the company is working with oil marketing companies to train their staff at petrol pumps to provide first aid and emergency response.

In the area of road engineering, the company is working with various state governments to conduct road safety audits as well identify blind spots that can be corrected. The company embarked on an initiative with the government of Odisha to conduct the first ever road safety audit for a 55 km stretch between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack – the busiest highway in the state. The initiative brought together all departments: excise, transport, highways, PWD and police to participate in this audit. The audit report findings paved the way for creation of traffic management capacity building within the state. This was followed by training in road accident investigation and traffic management for police officers of the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack region, and an exhaustive road traffic engineering and safety audit course for engineers of the road department.

Diageo is also working with the Puducherry government for a high visibility Road to Safety programme in the Union Territory. The project aims to mitigate the high occurrence of road crashes leading to serious injuries and deaths, as well as to improve the efficiency of movement of road traffic along with capacity building of the government agencies.

Diageo believes that when it comes to road safety, depending on the government alone will not help. Sure, stricter laws and their focused implementation will play a key role. But what is needed is behavioural change among our people and that will come about when all sections of the society come together and make concerted efforts.

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