India’s roads are notoriously dangerous, accounting for about 10% of global road fatalities. The country annually records an enormous number of traffic fatalities – 146,133 in 2015, and accidents annually leave more than a half a million people injured.
University of Virginia alumnus Krishnan Srinivasan is using his experience gained during his MBA at Darden School of Business to find safety solutions in a country that is building roads and adding motorists at a fast pace.
Srinivasan had graduated from UVA’s Darden School of Business in 2001 and then went on to work in Kazakhstan with the MBA Enterprise Corps (now MBAs Without Borders) on opening up the then Soviet style economy to a liberalised business regime.
“You need to have a data-centric approach, a very scientific approach in terms of treating it as a problem that can be solved very objectively, rather than thinking about it as something just involving new products, or seatbelt or helmet campaigns, and just thinking the problem will solve by itself,”
He brings to the table the experience gained in working in developing economies as also the expertise in transportation engineering gained through a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Srinivasan, talking to the campus magazine UAV Today, said he was busy introducing the best practices in road safety management and leadership approaches.
He has found an increasingly receptive audience in the government, in part by framing infrastructure improvement as a public health issue, noting the enormous sum India could save if it reduced the spending incurred as a result of health care related to accidents.
He is taking up the safety-centric approach as a management issue with coordination of stakeholders. Tracking of methods and working toward clearly outlined goals are more important than looking for quick fixes, he says.
“You need to have a data-centric approach, a very scientific approach in terms of treating it as a problem that can be solved very objectively, rather than thinking about it as something just involving new products, or seatbelt or helmet campaigns, and just thinking the problem will solve by itself,” Srinivasan said.
“The new approach most developed nations are taking, and now slowly in America, too, is a ‘safe system’ approach where you try to build an infrastructure that is safe, where even if you have an accident – say, hit a pole or something – you do not get killed,” he adds.
Some of the amendments he has helped draft to the Motor Vehicle Act in India set stricter penalties for speeding or dangerous driving.
The changes also include setting up a National Road Safety Board to advise the government on all aspects of road safety and traffic management; creating accountability for entities responsible for the safe design, construction or maintenance of the road; requiring crash testing for vehicles; and providing greater assistance to road accident victims.
For new roads, he says safety measures such as road signs, markings, sidewalks, crash barriers and pedestrian bridges or underpasses should be essential design elements rather than afterthoughts.
He says, initially, the work seemed overwhelming. However, by breaking things down into smaller pieces, collecting measurable data and gaining buy-in among a diverse group of stakeholders for life-saving safety countermeasures backed by analytical rigour, he was able to arrive at solutions.
“Darden has helped me in terms of instilling a can-do attitude, in terms of picking up a challenge and trying to scientifically solve it, and at the same time building consensus around various strategies and tactics,” he adds.
Working largely as a consultant for the World Bank, Srinivasan has now spent more than a decade helping to bring transportation solutions to his rapidly growing country and other Asian nations, playing key roles in new legislation and policy dictating safer roads and vehicles.(Image Source:flickr.com)