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Caution: Black spots ahead

It is a narrow, tree-lined stretch like most of the picturesque Mumbai-Goa highway is. But in three months, this 50-yard strip near the Jindal company gate in Mahad has witnessed 16 deaths. Eleven of them were from one family.

mumbai Updated: May 18, 2010 01:28 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

It is a narrow, tree-lined stretch like most of the picturesque Mumbai-Goa highway is. But in three months, this 50-yard strip near the Jindal company gate in Mahad has witnessed 16 deaths. Eleven of them were from one family.

Like the small railway over bridge at Khambala, near Igatpuri on the Mumbai-Agra highway. This spot has seen a dozen deaths in the last four months. On March 24, six members of a family died in an accident on the bridge.

The Maharashtra highway police have identified 100 such ‘killer’ stretches during a survey. In one year, 583 people were killed in accidents at these “black spots”.

The bridge over Pushpavati river near Pimpalgaon on National Highway 3 is one of these notorious spots. Eight people have died in accidents in the past six months.

These black spots are those where more than three fatalities had occurred in a year for the last three years, and frequent minor accidents take place.

National Highway 6 (Surat-Dhule-Nagpur-Kolkata) topped the list with 19 spots accounting for 151 deaths. The Mumbai-Agra road, NH-3, has 20 black spots accounting for 70 deaths.

The police have written to the state Public Works Department (PWD), urging it to take immediate steps to help curb such accidents.

Sources in the PWD told Hindustan Times that the letter, received on March 31, lists details about the causes of accidents at these spots with suggestions to bring the numbers down.

Most of these spots are ridden with potholes and do not have speed breakers. The lighting is poor. Steep slopes and blinding curves were some of the features that make these spots accident-prone. Additional Director General of Police (highway police) Arup Patnaik said the highways are taken care of by multiple agencies such as the PWD, National Highway Authority of India, and the state’s road development corporation. “For a consolidated approach to redress the problem we have written to the PWD,” he said. “They (PWD) have already started doing their part.”

Executive engineers of the traffic department have suggested increasing bankings, putting up speed breakers before
junctions, trimming vegetation, fixing rumblers or speed retarders, and reducing the angle of the slopes.

These suggestions have been sent to the PWD.

A string of measures taken by the highway police since last year have managed to bring down accident fatalities from 12,397 in 2008 to 11,396 in 2009. Sources, however, said if necessary steps are not taken in time, these black spots could upset the trend.