The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which continues to draw flak for doing little to curb rising accidents on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, has come up with a plan: crash barriers at accident-prone spots through the entire 94-km length of the expressway. In addition, the MSRDC is also planning a massive awareness drive to “infuse discipline” among motorists.
“We are planning to put crash barriers on the expressway to reduce fatalities,” MSRDC managing director Anil Diggikar told Newsline. Diggikar said crash barriers prevent fatalities as they absorb the impact of a vehicle running into it. “We are hopeful that fatalities on the expressway will reduce once crash barriers are put at vulnerable spots,” he said.
Diggikar said once the current work undertaken in the wake of the landslide is over, the work of crash barriers would begin. Over 100 people die every year on the expressway, and officials said their renewed effort to put in place new safety measures and massive awareness would certainly go a long way in curbing the rising rate of accidents. “Apart from planning safety measures, we would also undertake massive awareness programmes. The drive would basically focus on self-discipline, meaning motorists should control speed and stop lane-cutting,” said Diggikar.
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Zealous motorists who over-speed lose control of their vehicles, which jump over the divider and run into vehicles coming down the opposite direction resulting in fatalities. MSRDC officials said flower beds do not serve any purpose when a vehicle runs into it at a speed of 120 kmph. “Crash barriers will stop such out-of-control vehicles in their tracks,” said officials.
The Pune-Mumbai Expressway that starts in Kalamboli from the Mumbai side is six-laned and the Pune-Mumbai highway which starts from Shil Phata has four lanes.
Asked why speed-limit of vehicles was not being monitored thoroughly, MSRDC officials said that despite motorists being permitted to drive only at a maximum speed of 80 kmph, they were found driving at 120 kmph. “Over-speeding is the biggest problem on expressway. Due to over-speeding, drivers are not able to control their vehicle. Lane indiscipline is another problem,” said officials.
MSRDC said it intended to bring in a number of changes to reduce accidents, but it failed as motorists had no deterrent. “The fine for overspeeding is just Rs 500. And those who use expressway are mostly affluent people for whom a fine of Rs 500 means nothing. However, there is hope at hand as the transport minister has promised hefty fines on over-speeding vehicles. Only hefty fines will act as a deterrent for undisciplined motorists,” officials added.