To outline strategies for the next step towards creating a lasting impact on safe driving habits, road discipline, and the overall safety of vehicles and roads, the Society for Automotive Fitness & Environment (SAFE), an initiative by SIAM, organised its “24th Edition of SAFE Annual Convention 2023” today in Guwahati, Assam. Centred on the theme – “SAFE Roads, SAFE India: Strategies for Ensuring Safer Transportation“, the event witnessed the presence of many dignitaries discussing road safety and how it can be boosted in India.
On the Occasion of the 24th SAFE Annual Convention 2023, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, in his message, mentioned that “The Indian automobile industry plays a vital role in our nation’s growth and, as it continues to thrive, it presents us with an opportunity to address road safety challenges. In Assam, we have taken steps like identifying accident hotspots, awareness drives, and emergency care strategies to address this. We are intensifying awareness against drink and driving, over speeding, and promoting helmet use, along with increasing highway patrolling. There is a need for a culture of Safety, wherein Education will play a major role. Our efforts also extend to constructing bus and truck bays, removing encroachments on national highways, and prioritising preparedness strategies. I commend SIAM and wish them success for their ‘Surakshit Safar’ and ‘SAFE’ initiatives towards safer transport systems.”
The convention was honoured by the presence of the chief guest, Shri Parimal Suklyabaidya, the Hon’ble Transport Minister of the Government of Assam, along with Shri Adil Khan, IAS, Secretary of Transport, Government of Assam, Prof Dr Nani Gopal Mahanta, Academic Advisor to Govt. of Assam, Shri Syedain Abbassi, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Govt of Assam and several other distinguished dignitaries. Industry experts from various corporations and OEMs shared valuable insights, greatly enhancing the significance and credibility of the discussions and initiatives presented during the convention.
Addressing the inaugural session, themed “Road safety in India – The journey so far”, Chief Guest Shri Parimal Suklyabaidya, Hon’ble Transport Minister, Government of Assam, said, “The Government of India and the automotive industry has made remarkable strides in improving vehicular safety. The alarming rate of accidents, especially among individuals under the age of 45, poses a real risk to an entire generation. Considering that the majority of accidents in Assam involve ‘dumpers’ and 2-wheelers, riders must prioritise safety by wearing helmets. Similarly, 3- and 4-wheeler manufacturers should actively guide customers to follow traffic and safety regulations. In doing so, we can collectively contribute to a safer and more responsible road environment.”
Guest of Honour Shri Adil Khan, IAS, Secretary of Transport, Govt. of Assam, said, “India’s annual toll of 1.5 lakh lives lost in road accidents is one of the highest in the world, and we must raise awareness and change driver behaviour to mitigate this crisis. In Assam, we actively engage with civil society, enforce road safety and traffic laws, and have integrated awareness education into the school curriculum. Extensive IEC campaigns, regular road safety audits, and state-regulated speed limits are in place. Assam has introduced 50 contactless services for licensing and vehicle registration, simplified registration processes, digitalised DL and RC, and implemented a comprehensive vehicle scrappage policy, among other measures to make vehicle-related services more accessible and user-friendly for the public.”
Guest of Honour Prof and Dr Nani Gopal Mahanta, Academic Advisor to Govt of Assam, said, “With approximately 65,000 schools in Assam and over 49 lakh students, ensuring road safety is paramount to all of us. The Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA) has taken proactive steps by including road safety rules and regulations in Assamese textbooks to instil awareness among students. The Department of Education, Assam also collaborates with the NSS and NCC to conduct various road safety programs to enhance preparedness and awareness among students and the community.”
Welcoming the Dignitaries and Auto Industry members to the Inaugural Ceremony of the SAFE Annual Convention 2023, Mr Prashant K. Banerjee, Executive Director, SIAM, informed everyone, “The SAFE initiative Surakshit Safar is making an impact all over the country.”
The SIAM SAFE Context Paper “Analysing India’s Imperatives for Road Safety” was unveiled on this occasion. The Transport Minister felicitated the contributors to road safety during the inaugural session.
During the inaugural session, Mr Sushant Naik, Vice President at SAFE and Global Head of Government & Public Affairs at Tata Motors Ltd, Mr D. Balakrishnan, President of SAFE and General Manager at Ashok Leyland, Mr Ashim Sharma, Senior Partner & Group Head at Nomura Research Ltd, and Mr Vinay Dhingra, Director at Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, also shared their insights and perspectives on road safety in India.
The first plenary session, “Proactive Engineering and Education in Road Safety”, was chaired and moderated by Mr Vikram Gulati, Country Head & SVP, CSR, External Affairs, Toyota Kirloskar Motor. Guest of Honour, Mr Pankaj Singh, Executive Director, NHIDCL (National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd), shared his perspectives on Education in Road Safety.
The session also included thematic presentations from Mr Ashish Chutani, Head -Corporate Affairs, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, on ‘Innovative engineering practices for improving road safety in India’, Mr Kalyan Dutta, Manager (T) / Road Safety
Auditor, NHAI, on ‘Road Safety in context to North-East and Hill roads for safe transportation’, Mr Bhagwan K Bindiganavile, Sr Vice President (Strategy, Brand & Communication, VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd, on ‘Automobile industry contribution in Road Safety Education‘, and Mr Ramashankar Pandey, Chief Executive Officer, TATA Autocomp GY Batteries Pvt Ltd, on ‘Proactive Engineering and Education in Road Safety’. Ms Prabha Mankikar, English Teacher, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, also discussed the “Importance of Road Safety in School Education.”
The second plenary session, titled “Ensuring Enforcement and Emergency Care in Road Safety”, was chaired and moderated by Mr Vinay Dhingra, Director, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt Ltd.
The session also included thematic presentations from Mr Umesh K Suryavanshi, Dy Head (Training & Consultancy), CIRT, on “Innovative Driving Test Systems”, Mr Benoy Gopal EB, Associate Director, C-DAC, on ‘Role of technology in improving road safety enforcement mechanisms’, Mr Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO, and Dr Roshan Jose, Head of Road Safety Project, SaveLIFE Foundation, on ‘Strategies for engaging communities in road safety initiatives’ and Ms Bhuvaneswari Jayaraman, Chief Manager – CSR, SKODA AUTO Volkswagen India Private Ltd, on ‘Moving People Safely – Skoda Auto Volkswagen India’s road safety projects’.
The third Plenary Session, titled “5th E of Road Safety – Evaluation”, was moderated by Mr Yash Pal Sachar, Vice President & Head of Corporate Affairs, Ashok Leyland Ltd. Guest of Honour, Mr Gaurav Upadhyaya, IPS, Additional Secretary, Transport (Head- Lead Agency on Road Safety), Govt of Assam shared his perspective on road safety.
The session also included thematic presentations from Mr Pradeep Jaswani, COO, JP Research India, Prof Akhilesh Maurya, IIT, Guwahati, Mr Anshuman Roy, Director- Business Development, Rosmerta Technologies Ltd, Mr Pradeep Jaswani, COO, JP Research India, Dr Prerna Arora Singh, CEO, People Trust’s India and Prof Akhilesh Maurya, IIT, Guwahati. They shared their views on 5th E of Road Safety.
SIAM, with its members, has been engaging with governments, corporations, and various stakeholders in an effort to address safer mobility across the nation, aligned with SIAM’s objective of Building the Nation Responsibly.