Save Life Foundation Is Making Sure Road Crash Victims Can Rely On The Kindness Of Strangers

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Save Life Foundation is making sure road crash victims can rely on the kindness of strangers

Shivam was only 16 years old. He was on his way home from school when he was hit by a vehicle. Seriously injured he dragged himself to the side of the road and for half an hour begged people to help him. Many stopped. No one came forward to help. No one called an ambulance. He died of treatable injuries. He would have been 27 years old today.

Shivam’s cousin Piyush Tewari was devastated by the loss. He examined the data and found some shocking facts.

1.3 million people (and counting) have been killed in road crashes. More than 5 million people have been seriously hurt or permanently disabled.

But what was really shocking is that more than half of these people could have survived if someone had helped and medical assistance had reached them in time. Tens of thousands of lives could have been saved. Families would not have been left to deal with grief and loss.

Strangers are capable of random acts of extreme kindness and bravery in the face of natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Why did no one help Shivam? Why did no one help those millions of accident victims?

A national study found that bystanders fear that helping victims will ‘involve’ them in a case, resulting in them having to go to court or be detained at hospital or even having to deal with the police.

Piyush decided to change all that. He started the SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF) and began to work towards changing attitudes, laws and, eventually, survival rates!

Since he began, he has moved everyone from the highest in the land, the Supreme Court down to individual drivers.

Piyush Tewari is fighting for the rights of road users to safety and medical assistance and for the rights of Good Samaritans to be protected from hassles.

His work is saving thousands of lives and he will save thousands more.

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero celebrates the Insaafer spirit of Piyush Tewari!

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In 2007, Piyush Tewari’s cousin Shivam was crossing the road on his way home from school when he was hit by a vehicle. Gravely injured, the boy managed to drag himself to the side of the road and, for the next half hour, implored passersby to help. Many stopped but not one came forward to help or even call for assistance. Shivam died of treatable injuries. He was 16 years old.

The devastating loss spurred Tewari to examine the data on road accidents and fatalities. He learned that 1.2 million people have been killed on the roads in India, and more than 5 million were left seriously or permanently disabled. The number of fatalities could have been halved if assistance and medical care had reached them on time. Tens of thousands of lives saved and their families not left to deal with grief and loss.

They say the first human instinct is compassion. Strangers are capable of random acts of extreme kindness and bravery in the face of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. So why did no one help Shivam? Why did no one help those millions of accident victims?

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In a national study, it was found that bystanders fear that helping victims will ‘involve’ them in a case, resulting in them having to go to court or be detained at hospital or even having to deal with the police. Tewari was determined to make an impact on the lives of those affected by road crashes, so he started the SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF) and began to work towards changing attitudes, laws and, eventually, survival rates!

In 2009, SLF drew up a network of police officers, medical facilities, and volunteers that relied on mobile tech. They trained this network to mobilise police and volunteers, and the system was adopted by the Indian government. As a result, 1,50,000 people injured in road accidents have been rushed to hospital in time since. Of these people, 98% have survived!

Then it was time to tackle the problem at policy level. In 2012, SLF filed a PIL in the Supreme Court asking for comprehensive protection for those who help accident victims – Good Samaritans. On March 30, 2016, the Supreme Court created the Good Samaritan Guidelines, which protects people from legal and procedural problems if they have helped someone. Once adopted by all of India, this alone is expected to save 75,000 lives every year.

Next, SLF used the Right to Information Act, 2005, to research fatalities caused by trucks that carry construction rods protruding from behind. (You will have seen, half-horrified, half-amused, the red scarves tied to them that are meant to ‘warn’ people of the potential danger.) The hazards were not to be underestimated. In 2012 alone, 9,000 people across India died in collisions with these vehicles. SLF moved the Supreme Court seeking a ban on transport of these rods which was granted. Once properly implemented, they estimate 90,000 lives will be saved over the next decade.

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Their most recent initiative is one closest to the hearts of Mumbai (and Pune). Anyone who has ever travelled the Mumbai-Pune Expressway will have seen at least one serious accident. The fact is, between 2002 and 2016 there have been 14,500 accidents on this 94km stretch. More than 1,400 lives have been lost.

In 2015, SLF initiated Vision Zero: Mumbai Pune Expressway Zero Fatality Corridor with the ambition of making one stretch of road in India 100% fatality free by 2021. With the help of corporate and government partners, SLF zeroed in on 4 areas of focus – Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Care. Today, medical response time has been reduced to 15 minutes and while instances of accidents have actually gone up since 2016, there has been a 30% decline in fatalities!

There’s an opportunity for absolutely anyone to be a hero when it comes to road safety, says Piyush. Being a hero means working to prevent accident and injury. “Drinking and driving is the worst form of road user behaviour,” he says. “A hero can ensure that her friends, colleagues, and family members never drink and drive!”

Heroes watch out for those who are more at risk. “A hero gives way to vulnerable road users,” says Piyush, “pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles carrying children. These are road users that need our special care and co-operation to make it safely to their destinations.”

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Despite his own loss, Piyush believes we all have the potential to be heroes. And it isn’t hard. “The least we can do to help is make a phone call to authorities,” he says. “The Good Samaritan Law now protects those who help the injured, and there’s no reason now why we shouldn't step forward and help a fellow citizen in distress. A true hero is one who helps an injured person on the road.”

If ordinary citizens want to get involved in the work Save Life Foundation does, it’s easy. Help identify the Good Samaritans of Mumbai – people who have helped injured road crash victims by rushing them to hospital or giving them first aid. Report potholes, debris, or stationary vehicles on the Mumbai Pune Expressway. This helps SLF swing into action to fix the problems. You can also volunteer with the foundation’s traffic sentinels and be a citizen volunteer working with the police on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. And if you have training in communication or design, maybe SLF could use your help to enhance messaging on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. To do any of the above, please contact SLF on: info@savelifefoundation.org