India's traffic-related death rate is one of the highest in the world. Road accidents are happening every single minute with 25% fatality rates, indicating one fatality takes place every 3.7 minutes. In 2011, 142,485 people died in road accidents alone, translating to a GDP loss of 3% for the country's economy from 1999 - 2000.

In an effort to reduce the fatality rate in India, Nissan has conducted a road safety program called "Nissan Safety Driving Forum (NSDF)" in 2013. Adopting the slogan of "Safety Begins with Me", the program educates drivers, co-passengers and pedestrians to take safety initiatives on the road.

As a pilot program, the Forum concentrated on three main cities in India – New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. A booth was set up near major shopping centers to give away free vouchers for patrons to ride on two vehicle-safety simulating devices.

The first simulator demonstrated the importance of seat belts – participants are fastened by safety belts while experiencing a 360o roll over simulation at low speed. The second simulator allowed participants to experience the usefulness of airbags through a crash simulation. Participants were buckled up on the driver's seat installed with airbags. When the simulator is hit by an obstacle, the airbags would pop out of the steering and protect the participants. Through these simulations, participants learnt how seat belts and airbags would protect them from crashes.

Many participants expressed their experience as eye-opening and
 
 
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Nissan's Safety Driving Forum (NSDF) – Saving lives on the road

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The 14th AEM-METI Economic and Industrial Cooperation Committee (AMEICC) Meeting on the Automobile Industry (WG-AI)

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appreciated the rare opportunity for a ride in the simulators. "I could feel the impact even with the simulator "moving" at 5km/hr. I can't imagine what would happen if a vehicle moved at a much higher speed on the road," a participant commented.

The 2-day event, costing about 20 million Indian Rupees, attracted more than 27,000 people. The overwhelming response has also garnered the attention of government officials. "The government should tie up with car manufacturers to carry out more activities and educate the people to raise awareness on road safety", said Mr Rajeev Lochan, Director of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, who had also participated in the event.

However, the program faced a few setbacks along the way. For example, space was needed to attract large groups of people, and so the booth needed to be set up in suitable locations near big shopping malls that are spacious enough to accommodate simulators and other facilities. As a result, it was a challenge finding the ideal location. The program also had to take into consideration the rainy season as moisture may cause damage to the simulators.

"Despite these constraints, Nissan Motor India is determined to expand the program to other cities. With our continued efforts, we hope that safety awareness will be increased and more people can be saved from road accidents," said Mr Takayuki Ishida, Managing Director of Nissan Motor India Private Limited.



 

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