After it came to light that the 36-year-old driver of the bus which ran off of the NH17 highway at Ratnagiri on March 19, leading to the deaths of 37 passengers, was drunk, local police booked 752 persons during a special week-long drive to check drunken driving on the NH17.
The drives were conducted after the state highway traffic police wrote to the regional superintendent to ask them to check drunken driving on the NH17.
Alongside, the state highway traffic police also conducted special drives on the highway to crack down on errant drivers.
“Between March 21 and March 27, 752 persons were booked during the special drive conducted to check on drunken drivers. Besides, a total of 1868 motorists were booked for absence of damaged reflectors and 14764 drivers were fined for damaged tail lights during the drive organised between March 27 and 31,” said Rashmi Karandikar, superintendent of police, state highway traffic police.
“Organising bandobasts on state highways is very difficult. You cannot stop vehicles as they are moving at very high speeds,” said an official from the state highway traffic police who did not wish to be named.
Also, said officials, the NH17 has no provisions for patrolling between 8pm and 8am that makes room for rash driving and speeding during the night hour, as in the case of the March 19 accident.
The 450-kilometer long Panvel-Mahad-Panji Road, better known as the NH17 has five of the 117 black spots identified on state highways and is said to be the most accident-prone. According to figures from the state highway traffic police, around 193 people were killed and 1,290 persons were injured in the 1,117 accidents reported on the NH17 last year. This is the highest number of accidents reported on any of the state highways. However, most of the accidents occur due to human error and could be averted if drivers drove more responsibly, said highway police.
“Around 80% accidents occur due to human error. Persistent measures are being taken to avoid accidents but people have to become more responsible as well,” said Karandikar.