January 26, 2022 6:14:24 pm
A total of 13,346 people died in road crashes in Maharashtra in 2021, an increase of four per cent (558 deaths) compared to the pre-pandemic year 2019, when 12,788 people had died. Like every year for over a decade, the maximum number of deaths were reported from Pune rural, Nashik rural and Ahmednagar, transport officials said. The silver lining, however, is that the number of crashes and deaths are steadily decreasing on the Mumbai-Pune expressway and the ideas may be replicated in other parts of the state.
Transport Commissioner Avinash Dhakne told indianexpress.com, “Speeding is the biggest menace. It is to be blamed for the accident in Wardha on Monday (January 24) in which seven MBBS students died. To deal with speeding, 196 interceptor vehicles have been given to the traffic police and another 76 are with us. If more such vehicles are required, we will try to provide them. Moreover, for the first time in Maharashtra, the Mumbai-Pune expressway will get an Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS), which will have electronic surveillance. We intend to replicate this in other places in the state too.”
Notably, in 2021, 862 deaths were recorded in Nashik rural, 798 in Pune rural and 706 in Ahmednagar. But the number of fatalities slightly decreased in Pune rural (-6 deaths) and Ahmednagar (-19 deaths) compared to 2019 but increased in Nashik rural (+10 deaths).
Over 500 deaths were reported in Jalgaon (527) and Solapur rural (547). Over 400 deaths were reported in Satara (486), Aurangabad rural (405), Beed (424) and Nagpur rural (466). Over 300 deaths were reported in Yavatmal (344), Jalna (319), Kolhapur (381), Sangli (336), Chandrapur (339) and Dhule (367).
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As per data of the Highway Safety Patrol (HSP), the state has been divided into 45 districts and commissionerate. Out of 45, only 15 commissionerate and districts saw a decrease in deaths. These are Buldhana (246 deaths), Gadchiroli (143), Gondia (132), Ratnagiri (96), Sindhudurg (157), Thane rural (175), Palghar (293), Thane city (196), Mumbai city (288), Aurangabad city (150), Solapur city (63), Amravati city (80), Yavatmal, Pune rural and Ahmednagar.
The silver lining is that the enforcement agencies that have been working towards making Mumbai-Pune expressway a zero-fatality corridor have had some success. The accidents came down from 358 in 2018 to 188 in 2021 and fatalities came down from 110 to 82 and injuries from 151 to 143 during the same period.
Piyush Tewari, the CEO of non-profit SaveLIFE foundation, which has been collaborating with the government to curb accidents on the expressway, said: “We pointed out some 3,020 issues regarding the expressway and 2,800 of them were resolved by the MSRDC (Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation). Some of the measures implemented here can be adopted across the state. Use of speed-calming measures, electronic surveillance and enforcement, and training motorists especially HMV drivers, among others, can be replicated elsewhere.” Tewari said they are now working to curb accidents on the 255-km segment of the National Highway-48 from Pune to Kagal via Satara.
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