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In safe lane: Maharashtra highways saw fewer deaths in 2017

The number of accident deaths on state highways dropped to 12,215 in 2017 from 12,935 in 2016 — a 5.6% fall

mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2018 09:22 IST
Vijay Kumar Yadav
Vijay Kumar Yadav
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra highways,accidents
The state recorded 35,839 accidents in 2017 compared to 39,878 the previous year.(HT)

The number of accident deaths on state highways dropped to 12,215 in 2017 from 12,935 in 2016 — a 5.6% fall, according to data from the Maharashtra Highway Safety Patrol department. Similarly, the state recorded 35,839 accidents in 2017 compared to 39,878 the previous year.

The number of fatal road accidents also decreased: 11,171 in 2017 against 11,780 in 2016. As many as 20,488 people were seriously injured in 2017 compared to 22,273 the previous year.

Police collected more fines from traffic violators. According to the data, the state highway police got more than Rs175 crore in fines from motorists in 2017 compared to Rs113 crore in 2016.

Cops attributed the decrease in deaths and accidents to sustained efforts, which have deterred motorists from rash driving and speeding. They said they had intensified their drive against errant motorists and increased nakabandis on state highways.

However, the dip failed to cheer experts who said it was not significant. Several factors — including, casual approach of motorists, no fear of law among them and ineffective enforcement — were responsible for a marginal decrease in deaths and accidents.

“Maintaining a smooth traffic flow has been our top priority. Simultaneously, we ensure that maximum people who break traffic laws are punished. We have also formed dedicated police teams called ‘Spotters Squads’ to monitor traffic violations. They discreetly monitor selected spots on Mumbai-Pune Expressway,” said Vijay Patil, superintendent of the highway police.

The highway police said local police units needed to complement their efforts. “For local police units, highway stretches under their jurisdictions are not their priority. As the state highway department is short staffed, the local police need to play a crucial role in maintaining law on highways,” said a senior officer.

Experts believe that the police cannot escape from their responsibility by citing manpower crunch. “The authorities need to adopt advanced technology for various actions such as e-challans. Only fear of law could deter motorists from breaking traffic rules,” says Avinash Atray of Road Safety Foundation. He added a decrease in road accidents was not significant.

Authorities were not taking adequate measures to prevent accidents and were focussing only on penalising motorists, Atray said.

“The government needs to tighten the norms for driver’s licence. This would deter drivers from having a casual approach,” he said.

Heavy vehicle curbs ease jams on e-way

The state highway police’s initiative to restrict heavy vehicles on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on weekends and holidays has reduced congestion on the road. The project called ‘Golden Hours’ was kicked off in September 2016.

Triple-axle and multi-axle vehicles are banned for seven hours on Fridays (6pm to 10pm) and Saturdays (8am to noon), and for seven hours on Sundays (4pm to 8pm) and Mondays (6am to 9am).

As per the data collected from state highway police, before the initiative, 11,192 light vehicles passed by the Khalapur and Talegaon toll plazas on the expressway between September 23 and 26 in 2016 compared to 58,540 light vehicles between May 26 and 29 in 2017. This shows that the ‘Golden Hours’ formula has freed up road space for light vehicles.

Additional director general (traffic) RK Padmanabhan said,“Heavy vehicles comprise 10% of vehicular traffic. To facilitate smooth movement for the rest of the vehicles, heavy vehicles can reschedule their travel time.” Vijay Patil, superintendent of the highway police, said more measures will be implemented to ease congestion.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 09:21 IST