Experts call for more exits, better enforcement to curb driving on the wrong side
Lack of enforcement, long distances for taking a U-turn and flawed road designs, besides the callous attitude of motorists, are among the key reasons that lead to wrong-side driving in the city, road safety experts said.
To tackle the issue, they highlighted that proper enforcement by the police and appropriate road designs are imperative to prevent the offence, which has often led to fatal accidents in the city.
Sarika Panda Bhatt, a road safety expert with Nagarro, said that one reason why drivers choose to take the wrong carriageway is the long distance between two exits on many stretches. “Stretches of the National Highway-48, Sohna Road and Golf Course Extension Road have a common problem. At certain parts of these stretches, the distance between two exits is nearly three to four kilometres. A lot of road users, hence, drive on the wrong side to avoid travelling the extra distance and to save time. Authorities need to rectify this and create exits for motorists at short distances,” said Bhatt.
She said that proper road design audit will help identify the causes behind wrong-side driving and it is also essential for authorities to first collect data correctly and subsequently analyse them.
“Another problem is that exact data on wrong-side driving is not available publicly and the police do not share the exact data with external agencies. With proper data on violations, wrong-side driving areas can be identified, and corrective measures can be executed,” said Bhatt, who was also a member of now-defunct Haryana Vision Zero, a programme commissioned by the state government to work on preventing deaths on roads.
Sewa Ram, an urban transport systems design expert and a faculty member of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi, said that wrong-side driving is also a behavioural issue that stems from poor enforcement.
“One of the major reasons behind wrong-side driving is that motorists are aware that in most cases, there will be no consequences due to lack of enforcement. Even though there are stringent penalties, now, for someone getting caught, the problem is that enforcement is either erratic or only carried out for short periods. For the rest of the year, the situation remains as is,” said Sewa Ram.
Ram said that the Gurugram police should place signage at spots where the practice is rampant to caution commuters of the consequences and the penalties. CCTV cameras or marshals can ensure greater supervision, he said.
KK Rao, the commissioner of police, said that they have started registering criminal cases for wrong driving. “Earlier we were challaning the violators, but since the issue is getting serious day by day, we have started registering criminal cases against the offenders. This is the only way to control the rising wrong practices. We have registered seven cases this month and have directed all the teams to ensure the offenders are booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code,” he said.