The 450km Panvel-Mahad-Panji Road, better known as the Mumbai-Goa Highway or NH17 (National Highway 17), is most prone to accidents as compared to other state highways, traffic authorities said.
The NH17 has seven of the 100 black spots identified by the state highway police three years ago.
According to figures from the state highway traffic police, around 193 people were killed and 1,290 were injured in the 1,117 accidents reported on the highway last year.
“The NH17 has reported a consistent increase in number of accidents and fatalities because of the existing road conditions,” said Prashant Mohite, superintendent of police, Thane region highway traffic.
The traffic police said the bridge in the Khed taluka on the NH17, where the accident took place on Tuesday, is a vulnerable spot. Last year, another bus had overturned and plunged into the river below. There were no casualties.
“The NH17 has been grossly neglected. Unlike other state highways, the roads there are too narrow and the traffic is not separated through dividers. Hence you hear of head-on collisions so often,” said Jitendra Gupta, member, Citizen Transport Committee and a transport expert.
“In fact, there are pockets where the highway has been widened to accommodate three to four lanes. But even at these stretches, there are no dividers. If you look at the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the entire highway has dividers placed,” he added.
The highway police authorities said sharp curves, narrow roads, sudden roadblocks could be blamed, but the main reason for accidents was human error.
“Even on Tuesday, the driver was speeding and driving rashly at 3am. Measures are being taken persistently by the government as well as the state highway traffic police, but people have to become more responsible as well,” said Rashmi Karandikar, superintendent of police, state highway traffic police.