The recent deaths of Marathi actors Anand Abhyankar and Akshay Pendse along with his two-year-old son in a gruesome mishap near Urse toll plaza have once again raised the question of how safe is it to drive on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. Reckless driving, overspeeding and lack of lane discipline are some of the major reasons for increase in the number of accidents on the expressway. Speak Up explores what measures should be taken to ensure safety of commuters
Most of the trucks plying on expressway are ill-maintained
I often take the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and through MCCIA I have time and again given suggestions to the government to make the expressway safer. What I really find wrong on the expressway is the lane indiscipline, especially among the truck and tempo vehicle drivers. The heavy vehicles are meant to drive on the left lane, which is a slow lane. In case of the recent expressway accident, the tempo was in the right lane and hit the barrier and came on the opposite lane. The mistake of the driver was that he was driving in the wrong lane.
There is a need to discipline expressway drivers and ensure they follow lane rules, especially the heavy vehicle drivers. Most of the trucks plying on the expressway are ill-maintained and they operate without tail lamps, indicators or headlights. We have always suggested that there must be checkpoints on the expressway for the trucks wherein they should be stopped and fined if they show indiscipline or are ill-maintained. One often sees trucks overspeeding, driving over 100 km/hr. It is not possible to have policing on the whole stretch of the road, but penalising for lane indiscipline and ill-maintenance of vehicles is a must.
Anant Sardeshmukh, Executive Director General,
Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA)
Maharashtra should implement emergency number 108 quickly
Let us not blame the infrastructure and first concentrate on disciplining the people who drive. Many don’t follow the lane discipline at all on the expressway. I always see the trucks being driven in the right lane, which is against the rule. The vehicles who do not follow lane discipline must be heavily fined. While driving on the expressway, one is not supposed to change lanes every now and then.
I have travelled on expressways abroad. If you break the lane discipline, you are in big trouble. However, on our expressways, nobody is bothered. Especially the trucks who are supposed to drive slowly on the left lane are oblivious to the rule. Also, Maharashtra should immediately implement the emergency number (108) service for highways. It is operational in 16 states in the country and Maharashtra too should launch the number as soon as possible.
Dr Prasad Rajhans, Chief Intensivist, Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital & EMS pioneer
The 80 km/hr speed limit set seems pointless
Basically, Indians have no civic sense and one of them being driving. We are not law abiding citizens and do not observe lane discipline unless we see cops. If anything has to be changed, it has to be the attitude of people. Punishment and penalising is the only way through which we can discipline our citizens.
Driving on the expressway could be a nightmare as nobody seems to be following the rules. However, the 80 km/hr speed limit is pointless on the expressway. Nobody drives as per the speed limit set. The truck drivers are the least educated and do not bother to follow the rules. Driving on the expressway is different from driving on city roads. The government should see that people drive on the expressway with peace of mind, which is not happening due to unruly truck drivers. The truck drivers are to be blamed for the majority of accidents on the expressway. The government and people have to come together and take collective responsibility to make expressway safer to drive.
Rahul Ranade, Music Director
Heavy vehicles don’t observe lane discipline, causing accidents
The death of the two actors and a two-year-old boy is tragic but I am not surprised. Such accidents can happen with anyone. As a regular user of the expressway, I would say one of the major causes for the rising accidents is that most of the people do not drive responsibly. Since driving licences are given indiscriminately, most of the drivers do not know how to drive safely. They drive as per their wish. I would also blame the drivers of heavy vehicles like trucks and buses for accidents as they do not observe lane discipline. They should stick to the left lane but instead drive in the middle and right lanes, forcing cars to move in the left lane.
The bus drivers, in particular, drive recklessly. The solution is that the drivers must maintain the speed limit between 80 and 100 km/hour while driving and all the heavy vehicles must keep to the left. The government must also heavily fine drivers who overspeed and break traffic rules.
Anand Nirmal Bagwade, advocate
The police must establish more checkpoints along e-way
One of the biggest causes for the rising accidents is that drivers of heavy vehicles, especially trucks and goods carriers, drive at a very high speed on the expressway. They also do not observe lane discipline and wrongfully overtake other vehicles. Some of the trucks do not maintain their head and tail lights, which creates problems for other drivers in the night.
Another factor is that there is too little checking of drunk drivers. There are many drivers, especially in the evenings and nights, who drive under the influence of alcohol. The highway police and expressway administration is not monitoring such drivers nor fining those who break the traffic rules and go beyond the speed limit. Though the limit is 80 km/hour, people routinely drive at 100 or 120 km/hour and above.
The police must establish more checkpoints along the expressway and fine those drivers who break the traffic rules. No driver should go beyond 80 km/ hour under any given circumstances.
Kedarnath Maniar, advocate
We have taken action against rash driving and overspeeding
Motorists lack discipline when it comes to driving on the expressway. Many drivers do not follow lane discipline or indulge in rash driving, which lead to road mishaps. We are carrying out six special drives wherein in the last 1.5 month, we have taken action against rash driving and overspeeding.
Dilip Bhujbal, Superintendent of Police of Highway police