Poor enforcement of traffic rules, overloaded trucks that frequently breakdown and wrongly parked vehicles on service roads are reasons leading to frequent accidents on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway.
While the Gurgaon police said it does not have adequate numbers to officials to man the expressway, the highway operator has only 52 personnel to manage traffic. The response time of the highway patrol teams that are generally called for relief and rescue operations is also poor leading to high rate of accidents and fatalities on the expressway.
On Wednesday morning, a fast moving Tata 407 vehicle crashed into a stationary truck parked on the second lane of the expressway flyover at Iffco Chowk resulting in the death of two occupants and inuring the a third person. Such crashes happen frequently and since the inception of the e-way in 2008, around 500 people have been killed in road accidents.
According to Amit Bhatt, a transport expert, stationary and wrongly parked vehicles are two major reasons for accidents on Indian roads, particularly expressways. “We need to improve enforcement of traffic rules. Also, the highway operator should have an Incident Management Unit that can monitor such incidents 24x7,” he said.
Internationally, high-speed freeways have a Charter of Highway code that stipulates the maximum time for a car, bus or a multi-axle vehicle to be removed in case of a breakdown. The highway operators also must have adequate staff and the necessary equipment required to remove the vehicles and enforce traffic rules, which is not happening in the case of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway.
The highway authority in Gurgaon only has two 17-tonne cranes and in most cases these prove inadequate to shift heavy trucks as this road witnesses heavy commercial traffic. “We keep a continuous watch on the road but in most cases, accidents involve overloaded trucks that are very difficult to remove,” said Naveen Yadav, an MCEPL official. The standard operating procedure in case of an accident is that highway patrol reaches the incident site immediately and it calls for help from the control room after taking a stock of the situation.
Raj Kumar Singh, in-charge of the highway control room, said that on Wednesday morning they had followed the standard operating procedure and it is not known whether the truck was stationary or suddenly broke down leading to the accident. “Our patrol team was on its way towards Jaipur when it heard a bang. The team immediately called the control room. We informed the police and sent our team for rescue,” he said.
Local residents, however, allege that on several occasions, vehicles are parked on the main carriageway and on the service lanes as people wait either to repair broken vehicles, change tyres or take time out to rest. Bhatt says that these activities happen because of poor enforcement by the police and the highway operator and that these need to be stopped.
Also, the high-definition cameras that were installed on the highway don’t function sometimes. This too needs to be addressed.