Mumbai's killer roads: City will soon have uniform 60kmph limit

Sep 10, 2018, 08:07 IST | Anurag Kamble

Though the Mumbai traffic police are now penalising only those who breach 80kmph, the limit will be brought down once more cameras and speed guns are procured

Mumbai's killer roads: City will soon have uniform 60kmph limit
To tackle accidents along the winding JJ Flyover, cops intend to install signboards and rumblers to slow vehicles down. File Pic

Days after taking corrective action at the accident-prone Eastern Express Highway in Vikhroli that was highlighted in this paper's Killer Road series, the traffic police are now addressing other road safety issues on a war footing. One of the main steps will be to bring a uniform speed limit of 60 kmph across all city roads, said Joint Commissioner (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar during a chat with mid-day.

According to the senior cop, they have introduced several safety measures that have reduced fatalities by 15-20% in the past year. The battle ahead lies in ensuring that motorists follow the speed limit, and follow basic rules such as riding with helmet or seatbelt on. While the cops have already met with some success in the second concern, they hope to enforce the first rule by installing more speed cameras and signboards across the city. Their next goal is to get pillion riders to wear helmets as well, for which they intend to hold more awareness drives.

Joint CP (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar at the Worli head office. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Joint CP (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar at the Worli head office. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Excerpts from the interview:
mid-day has highlighted 13 black spots across the city which claimed highest casualties. What is the traffic department is doing about them?
The Crash analysis cell of the traffic department continuously studies fatal accidents that take place across the city. We have identified 52 such spots. We keep updating this list and share it with the other agencies as well. Every six months, joint visits take place with the traffic cops, BMC and other departments to study the cause of accidents and how to curb them. As a result, fatalities have reduced by 15-20% in the past year.

A few of the spots, such as JJ flyover and Everard Nagar, need engineering modifications. How are you pursuing this issue?
Yes, there is an engineering challenge with JJ flyover, which has acute turns. We will introduce traffic calming measures on flyovers, such as rumblers and signages will be added to reduce speed. Also, there are speed cams to check anyone crossing the 50 kmph speed limit.

What about junctions where pedestrians have fallen victim to speeding vehicles due to lack of signage, such as Vikhroli, Priyadarshini, Bandra Reclamation and Haji Ali?
At these spots, either pedestrians were walking on the road, or motorists weren't able to anticipate the road's curves. We are coordinating with other agencies to solve this problem. For instance, at Vikhroli, we have already integrated service roads with the highway, which will allow motorists to drive without interruption.

What is being done to curb the speeding menace?
We have installed 40 speed cameras at certain spots. Also, we are asking officers to keep eye on these spots. The Eastern Freeway and Bandra-Worli Sea link have a speed limit of 80 kmph, but motorists cross this too. They should understand that these aren't racing tracks. Regular awareness drives are held so that motorists don't indulge in speeding. It is not only a danger to the motorist, but can claim the life of others as well. We catch the offenders and penalise them, but it will only end when citizens become responsible drivers.

Why are there different speed limits across the city? Can we have uniformity in the speed limit, so there is less confusion?
By and large, the speed limit in the city is 60 kmph, and citizens should stick to this for a hassle-free drive. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link has a speed limit of 80 kmph because it is a straight road and there is not much chance of pedestrians jaywalking. On other hand, JJ flyover has sharp turns, so we have reduced the speed limit to 50 kmph. Citizens tend to race when they find empty roads. As we continue installing more speed cameras, we will be able to stick to the
60 kmph limit.

What are the most common traffic violations?
Major violations that we see on a day-to-day basis are bikers and pillion riders without helmets, or motorists going over the speed limit. We also have rigorous enforcement to curb drink driving. Violations are decreasing slowly but steadily, as motorists become more aware.

How has your experience been with e-challan? How are you tackling non-payment of challans?
E-challan was a game changer for the Mumbai Traffic department. It has brought great transparency in policing. Once any motorist commits a traffic violation, no matter who he is, an e-challan is issued and it remains in the system till he/she pays it. Even if there is a delay in payment, we will catch up with the defaulters. We are developing a mechanism to recover this money; things are in the pipeline.

Traffic chowkies across the city are in a sorry state, and they don't even have restrooms for women constables.
We are aware of that there is a lack facilities at traffic chowkies. Chowkies have to be placed in the vicinity of major roads, but there is a space crunch. We are trying to improve the current situation and make the division offices and chowkies a better place.

There has been considerable action against drink driving and riding without helmet. What changes have you witnesses in motorist behaviour following such heavy surveillance?
We see more people wearing helmets now. We will take it further in the future by asking pillion riders to wear helmets too. Generating awareness takes time, but when people realise the importance of following safety norms, they never forget to practice it.

What success have you had in decongesting the railway station vicinity?
We are conducting decongestion drives after studying the area around the station. Dadar East, Bandra East, Andheri and Kurla have shown good results, but it's a continuous process. We are taking up new stations every month.

The traffic at Western Express Highway is at its worst, and people spend hours trying to cover just a few kilometres.
There are lot of reasons for this. The main reason is mega projects going on at WEH, which have reduced the carriageway at many junctions. Once these projects are completed, they will transform the public transport system in Mumbai. Citizens must bear with us.

60kmph Uniform speed limit cops will enforce in the future
52 Accident-prone spots traffic cops have identified
13 No. of deadly spots mid-day highlighted
40 No. of speed cameras the police have installed

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