The Eastern Freeway and the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) are as structurally different as they come. But apart from the ‘Eastern’ in their names, motorists also see both these routes as Mumbai’s only race tracks.
According to the city’s traffic police, many motorists who speed along the stretch often end up in severe accidents — many of them fatal.
The 23.55-km EEH, which connects Thane to south Mumbai, is prone to accidents thanks to speeding motorists and some parts of the highway are also in the list of blackspots compiled by the Mumbai traffic police.
But why the need for speed?
“A portion of the EEH from Thane to Chembur has seven lanes, including two service lanes . It is the broadest route in the city and is a straight path. Taking advantage of the space and orientation, motorists and bikers accelerate rashly,” said Satish Patil, retired senior inspector, who served at Vikhroli traffic division.
Patil said, “Among heavy vehicles, cleaners and dumpers are involved in most accidents, bikers are the second-most likely group of motorists to lose their lives on the Eastern expressway. Most accidents on the stretch occur at night as there are no traffic signals during that time and people find it empty enough to their liking.”
The EEH connects with the Eastern Freeway in Ghatkopar. Ending at P D’Mello Road in south Mumbai, the 16.8-km road with two lanes for each direction, has saved travel time for motorists heading to south Mumbai. However, motorists travelling on both the EEH and the Freeway face the same danger — speed.
While the speed limit on the EEH and the freeway is 80 kmph, the speed limit at the turns on the freeway has to be 40 kmph or less. Traffic officials said motorists often flout the norm, creating a serious safety hazard.
According to the World Health Organisations’ 2015 report on road safety, “A 5% cut in average speed can result in 30% reduction in fatal crashes.”
The report further points out, “An adult pedestrian’s risk of dying is almost 60% if hit by a car at the speed of 80 kmph. Thirty-kmph speed zones can reduce the risk of a crash and are recommended in areas where vulnerable road users are common, like
in residential and school areas .”
AV Shenoy, road safety expert ,said, “Motorists take road safety very casually. They have to adhere to lane discipline and remain within the prescribed speed limits to avoid any accidents.”
Shenoy highlights that unlike the EEH, the freeway is narrower and hence it also increases the chances of fatalities because of accidents.
“There are curves on the stretch where the speed has to be reduced. If that is not followed, it will certainly result in an accident,” said Shenoy.