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Cops to start ‘invisible policing’ on Pune-Mumbai expressway to address rampant lane cutting

To address this growing concern, the police force has resorted to ‘invisible policing’ where police personnel are dressed up as civilians and are deployed on the expressway to spot drivers who do not follow the speed limit or indulge in lane cutting. Last year, the state highway police penalised over two lakh drivers and collected a fine of over Rs 4 crore. 

pune Updated: Apr 26, 2018 15:53 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,cops,Pune-Mumbai expressway
The 94km Pune-Mumbai expressway has three lanes in each direction and each serve a different purpose.The first lane (one adjacent to the divider) is for overtaking, the second lane is for light vehicles and the third one is for buses and other heavy vehicles. However, most motorists do not follow these rules.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Aiming to put an end to the growing number of accidents on Pune-Mumbai expressway, the highway police have now increased their efforts to book drivers who engage in risky lane cutting. Last year, police fined a total of 64,000 drivers for lane cutting on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. This figure is alarming as in 2016, only 29,000 drivers were fined for the same offence.

Lane cutting offences on expressway double in a year
Last year, police fined a total of 64,000 drivers for lane cutting on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. This figure is alarming as in 2016, only 29,000 drivers were fined for the same offence. Apart from lane cutting, speeding and lack of road-worthiness are the other major causes of accidents.
What is lane cutting?
According to highway police, drivers trying to overtake vehicles in a risky way by changing lanes without any indication, accounts as lane cutting. Lane cutting from the left, which is dangerous, is rampant on the expressway, added police. Many drivers also cut lanes and overtake vehicles that are already overtaking others, further increasing the risk of an accident. Lane cutting at corners and curves at speed is also common.

According to documents available with the highway police, lane cutting remains a major cause of accidents on the Pune-Mumbai expressway, followed by speeding and lack of road-worthiness.

The 94km Pune-Mumbai expressway, with three lanes in each direction, is famous as the country’s first expressway that became operational in 2000. The first lane (one adjacent to the divider) is for overtaking. The second lane is for light vehicles and the third is for buses and other heavy vehicles. However, most motorists do not follow these rules. Since 2000, the highway police, which monitors traffic on the expressway, has recorded 14,000 accidents with more than 1,500 deaths.

To address this growing concern, the police force has resorted to ‘invisible policing’ where police personnel are dressed up as civilians and are deployed on the expressway to spot drivers who do not follow the speed limit or indulge in lane cutting. Last year, the state highway police penalised over two lakh drivers and collected a fine of over Rs four crore.

Speaking about the rising accidents on expressway, Pravin Randive, assistant police inspector of the highway police, said, "Lane cutting is the biggest cause for concern on the expressway. Many a time, vehicles indulge in lane cutting from the left side. Some drivers even shift two lanes while trying to overtake a vehicle which is already overtaking another. Lane cutting at corners and curves at high speeds is also really dangerous and common. These actions can cause a lot of accidents and the highway police is intensifying its efforts to book errant drivers."

He added that recently, the number of motorists on the expressway too had increased and that the prevalence of accidents due to speeding motorists reduced by almost 99 per cent.Hindustan Times had reported, in the light of the union speed transport committee’s recommendation of increasing the speed limit on the expressway, that the experts monitoring speed and accidents along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway believe that the expressway cannot handle speeds over 80 km per hour.

According to the data provided by the Maharashtra Highway Safety Patrol (HSP), 47 people were killed in 41 fatal accidents between June 2016 and June 2017 while 151 people died in 97 accidents in 2016 and 118 were killed in 93 accidents in 2015 on the expressway.

An analysis of 155 road accidents on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway during January-December 2016 showed that 93% accidents were due to human error. The three most important causes of accidents were improper lane changing/lane usage (30%), speeding (29%) and driver fatigue/sleep/drowsiness (11%). The study was conducted by JP Research India Pvt Ltd and was submitted to the Maharashtra government’s Additional director general of police (traffic).

First Published: Apr 26, 2018 14:35 IST