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Mumbai dumper carnage: Heavy vehicles weighing down traffic security

Not only do heavy vehicles like trucks, trailers, dumpers and multi-axles often instigate traffic problems, they are also frequently the culprits in mishaps on city roads and highways.

Dumper accident
The driver of the dumper lost control over his vehicle on JVLR when the brakes failed and the front-right tyre burst. The vehicle rammed into auto rickshaws and then hit a couple of people who were having lunch under a tree by the footpath. The vehicle veered back on to the main road and struck a host of vehicles causing a massive pile-up

Senior officials from transport department claim that drivers behind the wheel of trucks, lorries etc recurrently drive dangerously. The dumper truck that killed two people, injured six others, and crashed into several vehicles yesterday was not an aberration.

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The last collated data is from February 2012, which shows that at least 21 heavy vehicles including lorries, dumpers, tankers, containers and trailers were involved in fatal accidents within the first two months of that year.

Reckless drivers
“These drivers manoeuvring heavy vehicles are reckless in their approach. They just don’t bother about smaller automobiles, as they know that the chances of their generously-proportioned conveyances sustaining any damage in a crash are remote,” said VN More, transport commissioner. Despite all the evidence, the state government is going slow over the proposal of implementing speed governors in trucks, dumpers and buses after certain parties have approached the court. Speed governors ensure that these heavy vehicles don’t accelerate beyond a limit - around 55 kmph - thus minimising chances of accidents.

Speed governors
An RTO representative said that a letter has been sent to the Government of India, asking it to classify the transports that could be fitted with speed governors. Even officers from Mumbai traffic police concede that drivers of heavy vehicles are a nuisance on roads. “These conveyances are not allowed to enter city limits from 8 am to 11 am, and 5 pm to 8 pm. Also, the probability of inadequately maintained vehicles getting involved in accidents is more than for the ones checked regularly. We often issue advisories for inspection of automobiles, especially during monsoon,” said Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner of police (traffic).


Some of the vehicles damaged during the mishap. Pics/Kiran Bhalerao

Traffic rules
Meanwhile, experts from the transport industry claim that drivers of trucks, lorries etc are usually very young when they enter the profession, are impatient, and have little respect for traffic rules. “These youngsters don’t care about driving appropriately, or checking the tyres and overall fitness of the vehicles,” said Nitin Dossa, executive chairman of Western India Automobile Association. The government and WIAA will soon start a special training institute at Indapur for providing basic driving skills especially on highways.

Speaking to MiD DAY, transport expert Jitendra Gupta said, “The root cause for a majority of accidents on highways and link roads is the rash driving of dumpers. The monthly income of drivers and owners of these vehicles depends on the number of trips they make. So they are often seen speeding. They also frequently drive under the influence of alcohol, so traffic department should start a campaign against them.” At the Road Safety Fortnight Campaign in January, the state government revealed that 68,438 vehicle accidents were registered in 2011, in which 13,057 people died, and 45,616 were seriously injured. 

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