Updated: October 23, 2021 1:21:26 pm
As per data released by the Old Mumbai-Pune Highway Vision Zero project, the number of fatalities on highways has seen an overall reduction of 54 per cent since 2018. The project is a joint initiative of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Maharashtra Highway Police, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India and SaveLIFE Foundation.
In 2018, when the project was initiated, the Mumbai-Pune section of NH-48 recorded 268 fatalities. “As a result of interventions carried out under this project, the number of fatalities reduced to 206 in 2019. Though in 2020, the actual number of fatalities stand at 79 as per police records, in order to report the impact of the project, a conservative figure of 123 has been considered on the basis of fatalities in Q1 and Q4 of the year, when Covid-19 related challenges and restrictions were negligible. The extrapolation to 123 fatalities also considers past available trends from Qs 2 and 3 of other years,” a press statement from SaveLIFE Foundation said.
The NH-48 stretch between Pune and Mumbai is referred to as the Old Mumbai-Pune Highway. Before the six-lane expressway became operational in the early 2000s, the Old Highway was the only direct road link between the two metros. This stretch used to see a much higher number of accidents and fatalities compared to the expressway.
“MSRDC has played a very crucial role in implementing various engineering safety measures on NH-48. Over 1,200 engineering-related safety improvement measures have been implemented through MSRDC under the project,” the statement said.
Commenting on MSRDC’s work, its Joint Managing Director Chandrakant Pulkundwar said, “Last year, we spearheaded certain key initiatives on NH-48 which helped us in improving road safety, including eradication of black spots on the stretch referred to as the Anda Point. We now have dedicated patrol vehicles to ensure strong enforcement to remove and cordon-off illegally parked vehicles on the old Mumbai-Pune Highway.”
Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay, Additional Director General of Police (Traffic) said, “The Old Mumbai-Pune Highway is an important link between the two cities and sees more diverse traffic with a lot of vulnerable road users. We have, therefore, allocated additional personnel to strengthen the enforcement and improve safety on the highway.” The project, conceptualised and managed by SaveLIFE Foundation, is supported by auto-major Skoda Auto Volkswagen India under its CSR programme.
It needs to be noted that two-wheelers and three-wheelers are not allowed on the expressway and, thus, have no alternative but to use the old highway, making the traffic diverse and high-risk in nature. The old highway also has a lot more entry points and exits compared to the expressway.
Gurpratap Boparai, MD of Skoda Auto Volkswagen Group in India, said: “In an effort to further the cause of road safety, we have partnered with the SaveLIFE Foundation on the ‘Vision Zero’ project on the Old Mumbai-Pune Highway. We believe this model can work as a template for future road safety programmes across the country.”
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