In last year alone, 133 people were killed while 173 were injured in 353 accidents that took place on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, infamous for the very same reason. However, the state highway police are still not equipped to deal with the issue.
Inadequate workforce, insufficient equipment and lack of awareness among drivers are only a few of the issues that seem to be going against the department struggling to curb the accidents on the stretch.
At present, the department has a workforce of around 850 policemen, while the sanctioned strength is 2,400. Facing a severe crunch of 1,550 policemen, the department is not prepared to tackle the speeding vehicles, officials admitted on Tuesday.
“The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is constructed for vehicles driving at the speed of 80 kmph, however we have found vehicles, on an average, ply at the speed of 100 kmph. On top of that, we do not have enough policemen and necessary equipment and are ill-equipped to deal with the errant drivers,” said a senior officer from state highway police.
A recent study conducted by JP Research India (JPRI) submitted a report to the Maharashtra State Highway police, with an aim at identifying the various factors responsible for the number of accidents. The analysis was prepared after a thorough investigation of 372 accidents that took place between October 2012 and October 2014. According to the study, 29% of accidents were caused because of the driver feeling fatigued.
“With basic infrastructure necessary for the drivers missing, it is a task for the highway police to control the number of accidents,” another officer said, requesting anonymity as he is not authoried to speak to the media.
The JPRI report was recently submitted to National Highways Authority of India, said senior officials at the department. The NHAI, officers said, will review the report and take steps to make the necessary infrastructural changes on the highway.
The accident prone areas termed as “black spots” would be mended, said the officer. On Monday, two people were killed after a truck hit another stationary truck on the stretch.
Barely 48 hours before this, four people were killed and eight other suffered injuries after the SUV they were travelling in hit a truck from the rear on this road near Pune.