Human error behind accidents on Mumbai-Pune Expressway

While the state has swung into action to prevent a repeat of Sunday’s landslide, which killed two people, not much has been done to tackle the biggest cause of accidents on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway human error, with sleepy and speeding drivers leading the pack

Two people dying because of a natural phenomenon, which happened following the landslide on Sunday, is a major aberration as far as people losing their lives on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is concerned.

Also read: Maharashtra government announces compensation of Rs 4 lakh to deceased's family in Mumbai-Pune highway landslide

The landslide caused a 15-km traffic jam on Sunday
The landslide caused a 15-km traffic jam on Sunday

Analysis of two sets of data available with mid-day reveals unambiguously that human error is the biggest cause of accidents on the expressway, by a wide margin.

The Save life foundation found that of the 364 accidents that took place on the expressway between October 2012 and October 2014, every single one was caused by human error. File pics

And, of the various kinds of human errors, the ones that have resulted in the most accidents are drivers sleeping on the wheel or driving while fatigued, and speeding.

Numbers game
Data compiled by the Highway Police reveals that 14,186 accidents took place on the expressway between January 2006 and August 2014 and 925 people died between January 2006 and June 2013.

Of these, a whopping 85.71 per cent. or 12,158 accidents, took place due to human error including driver sleeping fatigue, speeding, improper lane change, improperly parked vehicles and pedestrians’ dangerous behaviour.

Watch video: Landslide blocks traffic on Mumbai-Pune Expressway

The numbers from a study conducted by a leading research foundation are even more startling. The Save Life foundation found that of the 364 accidents that took place on the expressway between October 2012 and October 2014, every single one was caused by human error.

The report, which was submitted to the office of the Additional Director General of Police (Traffic) on December 19, 2014, stated that sleepy, tired and speeding drivers caused the most accidents and listed a slew of measures that could be taken to bring down the number of mishaps.

Breaking it down
The study clearly states that human error contributed to a majority of the accidents. For example, 108 accidents, or nearly 30 per cent, took place because of sleeping or fatigued drivers.

Excessive speeding for conditions led to 65 accidents and 48 accidents took place because drivers exceeded speed limits. Even driving slowly led to accidents, with driving too slow for conditions causing 19. Improper lane change and parked vehicles were the other major reasons for accidents (see box).

“A combined approach entailing best practices across enforcement, emergency care, engineering and education is the only solution to the high number of road accidents taking place on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

We are hopeful that the government will take the required steps,” said Piyush Tewari of the Save Life Foundation. According to Mantralaya sources, the data was submitted to the PWD ministry in March 2015.

Highway police
As per the data compiled by the State Highway Police, a total of 14,186 accidents took place on the expressway between Jan 2006 and August 2014.

Also read: Major landslide at Mumbai-Pune Expressway, 1 dead, 2 injured

The data stated that 85.71 per cent of the accidents took place because of human error, 14.23 per cent because of mechanical issues and only 0.06 per cent or less than 9 accidents took place for other reasons, including natural calamities.

Of the people involved in the accidents, 573 people landed up in critical condition, 2,473 sustained major injuries and 5,994 of them suffered minor injuries.

17 points for E-way safety

The Save LIFE foundation has recommended these steps:

>> Install speed-calming strips (‘cats-eyes’) every 3-4 kms. 
>> Rest areas for drivers, especially truck drivers, every 40 km on both carriageways 
>> Close illegal U-turns 
>> Expand breakdown lanes to accommodate heavy vehicles 
>> Access control for animals, pedestrians and falling rocks and boulders through reinforced steel nets 
>> Cut vegetation at sharp turns to improve visibility 
>> Improved signage in at least 3 languages starting from at least 3 km before a turn and repeated every 400 metres thereon
>> Immediate barricading of stalled vehicles
>> Remove distracting hoardings from the expressway 

>> Installation of Number Plate Recognition cameras to catch dangerous driving, especially dangerous lane changing and over-speeding 
>> Establishing enforcement checkpoints on both sides at the toll plazas
>> Augmenting police capacity by training and deploying traffic volunteers 
>> Increasing drink-driving checks at stopping/rest points

Emergency Care
>> Deploy at least two Advanced Trauma Life Support ambulances on both sides of the expressway (total 4)
>> Upgrade small clinics along the way (both public and private) to become stabilisation centres for early advanced care before transfer to a tertiary care centre

Establish inter-hospital transfer agreements
>> Train police officers and expressway staff to rescue and stabilise victims while waiting for ambulance or rushing victims to hospital 
>> Deploy modern extraction equipment such as “Jaws of Life”. Ensure personnel are trained to use them.

Relief for Good Samaritan’s kin
Bringing some relief to the family of 25-year-old Ganpat Pandurang Kudpane who on Sunday tragically lost his life in a hit-and-run incident as he rushed to rescue victims of a landslide on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway the Raigad tehsildar, Uttam Khumbar decided to provide compensation worth Rs 4 lakh in honour of the youth’s sacrifice.

Ganpat Pandurang Kudpane
Ganpat Pandurang Kudpane

Ganpat worked at the Khalapur food mall on the highway and lived nearby with mother, wife and toddler. Ganpat was the sole breadwinner in his family. He would often respond to emergency calls from the police, and on Sunday, he was just 300 metres away from the landslide spot and so ran there to help out, when an unidentified Swift hit him and then fled the scene,” said a local resident, Bapu Pote. - Text/Chaitraly Deshmukh.

Number of accidents on the Expressway between January 2006 and August 2014, according to data compiled by the State Highway Police

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  • Tanveer Shaikh21-Jul-2015

    There is no lane discipline. Trucks, Heavy Vehicles are ply on all three lanes of the expressway, particularly more visible on the ghat section (due to their slow speeds). All heavy vehicles (buses, trucks, etc.) should run only on the 3rd lane. Police should patrol the expressway

  • Ranbir21-Jul-2015

    Dear Editor,I loved the story and pointing out, the main reason of accident is Human Error and I totally agree with this. Across the world major cause of accident is Human Error. But! the most important which you have forgotten to mention and never gets highlighted is Learning process of getting the Driving license. India is one of the countries where vehicle license can be acquired even by kid without test. The problem lies with the training the driver which very less people are taught.

  • Rammohan22-Jul-2015

    Driving in the shoulder line on wrong side causes also accidents

  • sanjay nair21-Jul-2015

    few more observations - 1. separate extreme left lanes should be cordoned off for Advanced Trauma Life Support ambulances to run parallel so as to enable ambulances reach accident spot along with cranes. 2. Construct truck bye lanes. 3. Construct ladies

  • kranti21-Jul-2015

    trucks with heavy loads shud not be allowed to overtake on the expressway as they block the free movement of light vehicles...then there is a competition of both the lanes getting blocked as the vehicle on the left does not allow it to merge after overtaking and increases speed.....common observation on highways/expressways

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