India reports the highest number of road deaths globally, with nearly 150,000 people dying annually. Public buses in India play a major role, serving 70 million passengers daily. Safety of these buses is a major concern, with more than 4,000 fatal crashes reported every year. Aligned to target 3.6 of United Nations Sustainability Goal 3 for Good Health and Well-being, this initiative is aimed to reduce public bus crashes.
Public buses are a safer mode of commute as compared to private vehicles as they have a lower rate of crashes per passenger kilometer traveled; however, bus crashes impact vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and motorcyclists disproportionately. Besides, bus crashes also induce costs in terms of vehicle damages, loss of productivity, and victim compensation, impacting finances of the transit agency.
Between 2015 and 2017, World Resources Institute India and Underwriters Laboratories studied historical crash data of 13 bus transit agencies to analyze the reasons for crashes and drive programmatic interventions to improve safety. One of the key findings was that a majority of buses were plying with substandard mirrors that greatly compromised the field of vision of drivers, resulting in crashes involving motorcyclists and pedestrians.
This report summarizes the critical evaluation of bus crashes across 13 state transport undertakings and also highlights the evidence-based measures piloted to reduce such incidents. This evidence was used to nudge bus transit agencies to improve the quality of mirrors in their bus fleets; subsequently, two agencies issued tenders to procure standard rear view mirrors.