Nine students were killed in a SUV-truck collision on Pune-Solapur highway on July 20.(HT FILE)
Nine students were killed in a SUV-truck collision on Pune-Solapur highway on July 20.(HT FILE)

4,459 deaths due to accidents in last four-and-a-half years in Pune district

Speeding, rash driving and drowsy, post-midnight driving main reasons for accidents, say police
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Nadeem Inamdar
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2019 03:12 PM IST

As many as 4,043 accidents have been reported since 2015, wherein deaths have stood at 4,459 individuals, according to statistics from the highway police.

The major reasons for such accidents are speeding, rash driving and drowsy driving post-midnight, said traffic experts and highway police officials.

On Saturday, nine college students on board a compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) were killed when the car they were travelling in collided head-on with a truck on the Pune-Solapur highway.

Reasons for accidents on city roads include not wearing helmets, lane cutting, riding triple seat and signal jumping.

In the first six months of 2019, 302 accidents were witnessed and 330 people were killed.

In Saturday’s accident, the locals had blamed short median and poor traffic management though highway police refuted claims saying the car in which nine youth were travelling, was driving at 120 km per hour, which led to the accident.

Milind Mohite, superintendent of police, highways, said, “The number of accidents on the highways has reduced due to safety-related awareness amongst the drivers and end-users. With the introduction of Bharat Six norms, the road safety scenario on the highway has started changing in the larger interests of the road users.”

Bharat stage emission standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and Spark-ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles.

“At the same time, road users must drive responsibly, must not violate the traffic laws and maintain the speed limits to reach their destinations safely. We are in continuous process of educating the citizens regarding how to drive safely following highway safety norms,” said Mohite.

He added that highway police will investigate all the causes and factors responsible for the accidents involving the death of nine youths of Yavat in Loni Kalbhor.

SP Mohite further said, “Three important factors - road engineering - the condition of the vehicle - the mental balance of the driver are determining factors behind the cause of an accident.”

Pranjali Deshpande, senior programme manager, Institute for Transport Development, said, “Speed is inversely proportional to safety especially when the road is improperly designed and our roads are designed in such a way that they don’t address local context.”

“Our highways cannot be compared with the international highways,” she added.

“Driver fatigue is also a major issue and it should not be ignored. The rest or break to a driver is the need of the hour and driving is not thrill, but a responsible activity,” said Deshpande.

“More public and road safety options need to explored and policy decision and road safety design in the larger interests of the citizens is needed,” she said.

Rajendra Sidhaye, chairman, Save Pune Traffic Movement, said, “Driving at late night and especially in the early morning can lead to dozing condition among drivers and this happening even for one or two seconds can be fatal. Customers should not pester the drivers to continue driving and drivers must avoid pushing themselves if they are feeling sleepy.”

“Safe driving should be systematically taught to all, which includes the principle of defensive driving which tells you to choose safety rather than taking a chance, even if it means needing more time and delay,” he added.

42 killed in accidents involving Shivshahi buses in last two years

At least 42 people lost their lives in accidents involving Shivshahi buses in the last two years, according to data provided by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).

Shivshahi is a premium bus service and is operated by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and began operations in 2016.

From June 2017 to March 2018, 83 bus accidents were reported while the number of accidents increased exponentially to 439 from April 2018 to February 2019, according to MSRTC data.

In the last two years, 364 people were severely injured and 115 people suffered minor injuries due to these accidents, according to data provided by the MSRTC.

Official spokesperson of the MSRTC said, “We are giving special training to our drivers considering an alarming number of increase in the accidents involving Shivshahi buses.”

“One of the other reasons that we have noticed is the fact these buses run on narrow routes of the state,” he added.

We are taking efforts in reducing the number of these accidents, said the spokesperson.

A senior official of the MSRTC requesting anonymity said, “Many of the Shivshai buses that meet with accidents are those operated by the contractors.”

“The drivers of these buses are hired on a contract basis and many of them do not have enough training of operating such hi-tech buses,” he added.

Responding to this, official spokesperson of the MSRTC said, “It is true that buses hired by contractors are mostly involved in accidents, however, it is not entirely true to blame the contractors. Nevertheless, following such accidents MSRTC has decided to give training to the drivers recruited on a contractual basis as well.”

Currently, MSRTC has a total of 997 buses in its fleet out of which 500 are owned by the government and the rest are hired on a contract basis.

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