The state government and road safety agencies decided to have a trial run of a specialized van on the 93-km route of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to identify causes of accidents. Due to alleged bureaucratic red-tapism the vehicle came and went without carrying out the trial.
This vehicle — called the iRAP van — was brought at the end of the first week of February all the way from Chennai and was taken away without conducting the inspection of the Mumbai-Pune route. According to sources, the state government’s Public Works Department did not give the necessary permissions.
Soon after the Road Safety Fortnight, held from January 1-15, authorities announced the plan to study road engineering on the Expressway using the van.
This vehicle has several cameras and was meant to study the black spots on the road, steepness of the dangerous curves and improper road conditions. The route has seen nearly 1,460 accidents since 2009 that has led to the death of around 370 people. “The vehicle would have at least identified the spots where drivers need to be careful and possible solution to tackle the cases of death on this Expressway,” said an RTO official.
The initiative was taken by the Paris-based Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) along with its Indian counterpart Federation of Indian Automobile Associations (FIAA). “The main problem is disciplined driving which is missing. Although the vehicle could have highlighted the black spots and problem areas along this stretch, it is practically difficult to change the alignment of this Expressway,” said a transport expert.
In fact the president of FIA, Jean Todt also met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on the issue of lowering accidents. “State government was to decide on the future course of the trial run with help of this vehicle,” said an official from Western Indian Automobile Association (WIAA).
Almost 80 per cent of accidents occurred due to human error, while the remaining have been attributed to mechanical problems of the vehicle. The present speed limit on the expressway is 80 kmph however, most vehicles travel at a higher speed.
As of now there is no foolproof mechanism to catch offenders as the entire stretch has only limited speed guns. The installation of CCTV cameras has also been suggested.
1,460 No of accidents on the Mum-Pune expressway since 2009