After the accident on Sunday night that killed Dr Ketan Khurjekar and his driver, state Highway Patrol officials have repeated their long-standing demand for multiple parking bays along the 94-kilometre Expressway connecting Pune and Mumbai.
Among the many issues the Expressway traffic still grapples with is the paucity of parking bays where vehicle drivers can rest. These spaces can also be used in case any vehicle develops a snag. In the accident on Sunday, the driver had to halt the car on the shoulder lane of the Expressway, when it was hit by a speeding bus from behind.
Overspeeding, overtaking main killers
Overspeeding and overtaking from the wrong side continue to be main causes for accidents on the Expressway. While road infrastructure on the Pune-Mumbai Express-way has seen very slow correctional steps over the years, the enforcement of the rules has also not been up to the mark. A study done by state highway patrol in 2015 has shown that 99 per cent of vehicles are in violation of the 80 kmph speed limit and about 15 per cent even cross the 150 kmph at some points.
While the highway patrol police time and again put forward their demand for multiple parking bays, at present, there are only two bays located near Khalapur — one of which is located behind a cluster of restaurants and is rarely used by commuters.
Milind Mohite, Superintendent of Police with the Pune division of the Highway Patrol, said: “In our recent observations, we have seen that the existing parking bays are hardly used by the commuters, especially truck drivers. The tea and other food items sold at these places are not affordable for an average driver. We feel that it is very important that there are multiple parking bays along the length of the Expressway, which are easily accessible and have affordable amenities. This will reduce the frequency of vehicles having to stop on the roadside…”
The existing parking bays are owned and operated by the Maharashtra Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal body for road construction in the state. An MSRDC official told The Indian Express that proposals for parking bays had come up in the past as well but no action has been taken beyond opening two bays near Khalapur. Meanwhile, the Highway Police has started a drive against violators of lane-cutting norms on the Expressway.