Poor condition of service lanes. Non-adherence to lane driving. Lack of traffic police personnel. No enforcement of laws.
This vicious cycle has cost the lives of many commuters ever since the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway was thrown open to the public in 2008.
According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), slow-moving vehicles such as bikes, auto-rickshaws and bicycles are not allowed on the expressway, which allows speed between 40 and 80 kmph.
Though traffic marshals have been employed by the operator, Delhi Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited (DGSCL), they don't have the powers of the traffic police to penalise errant drivers and cannot force drivers into following rules.
"We've put up signboards all along the expressway along with traffic marshals at each entry/exit. But drivers don't listen to them as they know only the traffic police can book offenders," the concessionaire said.
The police, on the other hand, say they are severely understaffed. With only 298 traffic police personnel, including officers, in the field at present, Gurgaon needs at least 900 more to effectively regulate traffic. Moreover, according to DCP (traffic) Bharti Arora, there is no clause in the Motor Vehicles Act that prohibits any vehicle from traversing any kind of road."
The NHAI and the concessionaire, however, join the chorus in this case.
"Clauses related to lane driving in the Motor Vehicles Act can be interpreted in a different way to penalise motorists on the expressway. When a driver enters a tag-only lane despite toll payment being made in cash, it is an infringement of the lane driving clause. The police can penalise them but they don't," said a DGSCL spokesperson.
Amid the blame game, traffic expert Rohit Baluja has a word of advice for the authorities.
"The traffic police's role should be that of enforcement, which they are trained for. Controlling traffic is traffic engineering, which should be the responsibility of the road and planning authorities. It is not possible for the police to keep pace with the rising number of vehicles," said Baluja, head of the Institute of Road Traffic Education and director of the College of Traffic Management.
Signboards have been put up along the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway to restrict the entry of two-wheelers, other slow-moving vehicles and pedestrians. (Parveen Kumar/HT)