Sustainable Solutions to Transform India's Roads


Road safety problems aren’t new in India, but they do make Indian roads some of the deadliest in the world.

Poor civic infrastructure, potholes, open drains, and stray animals are just some of the complex yet pressing issues that Indian citizens face on the road every day in addition to poorly educated drivers and rarely enforced traffic laws. Every hour 19 people are killed and 40 are left disabled due to road traffic accidents in India, the country with the worst road traffic accident rate in the world.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 210,000 fatalities in 2012 alone in India. Creating an estimated 2 percent loss in GDP every year, road accidents affect workforce members and place added pressure on the country’s health care system. In Bangalore, India’s tech capital, more than 50 percent of all road fatalities are pedestrians.

To counter these troubling stats and crowd source sustainable solutions to India’s road safety issues, UL, a global independent safety science company, has partnered with Ashoka, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs, to launch the “Safer Roads, Safer India” competition.

“Road accidents not only cause tragic loss of life, but have a negative impact on economy as well. We in India tend to see accidents as a ‘part of life’. This must change,” said R.A. Venkitachalam, UL’s vice president for public safety. “We, as a country need to bring road safety into mainstream discussion and forums and demand safer roads. This means effective policy and regulatory framework and its implementation, better infrastructure especially better road designs and investment in public transportation.”

With the aim “to mobilize public opinion and crowd source solutions that will reduce fatalities caused by road accidents,” this initiative will help foster active citizenship, enable collaboration with civil officials and identify the best solutions for incubation and implementation in six categories – active citizenship, technology, policy and governance and smart urban design.

One winner will be chosen per category and be awarded prizes of INR 300,000 each.  There will also be two additional prizes for the ‘Most innovative idea,’ selected by the expert panel and the ‘People’s choice idea,’ chosen by the residents of Bangalore via SMS public voting. The competition is open to all Bangalore residents eager to participate and create change in India, one road at a time. The deadline to enter the competition is June 4, 2014.

A panel of safety experts and thought-leaders led by Prof. Dinesh Mohan, Henry Ford Professor for Biomechanics and Transportation, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi will pick the winning ideas for their “innovation, ease of implementation, impact and sustainability.”

“The challenge aims to support system-changing, disruptive, creative ideas to ignite change for achieving safer roads in India,” said Vishnu Swaminathan, director of Ashoka India. “We are excited that this partnership leverages the Ashoka community of social entrepreneurs, experts, and investors to bring together the best ideas for large scale social transformation and catalyze this critical movement.”


Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published by Elan MagazineAdditional information about how to enter the competition, plus guidelines and assessment criteria, can be found at

Photo Credit: Road traffic in Bangalore via Flickr