On March 31, I was in my hostel room on campus working on my assignments when horrific news broke. Six final-year students - three girls and three boys - who were on a road trip to Rajasthan had been seriously injured. The Innova they were traveling in overturned when one of the tyres burst, causing the vehicle to roll over several times.
Two survived, but four of my friends died. Some say that their lives could have been saved had they received immediate care, but for 30 minutes, no help arrived.
The whole IIT community was in utter shock.
Their deaths pushed us to look at how unsafe Indian roads continue to be. It seems unfathomable that road safety has not been addressed as a top priority by any government. 1,50,000 people die every year in accidents; 500,000 are left with disabilities and 3,000,000 are hospitalized annually.
After we lost our friends, it became clear that we had to try and do something. We organized a meeting where students along with some faculty members discussed ways in which we could make Indians road safer. We have come up with a letter to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of all states that lists 10 points of action that should be taken by the government.
We believe that we need the laws to be changed. International assessments show that driver training and strict punishment is not enough to reduce accidents.
We're using an online petition to gather support. We want to present it to the PM after we get one lakh signatures. You can read the petition and sign up here: http://chn.ge/1otxm8n
We are also reaching out to students everywhere, asking them to help focus on a new campaign for road safety led by students like us.
We believe that as the next generation of thinkers, engineers, philosophers and decision-makers, it's imperative that we work for safer roads in the country.
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