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Veritable death-traps

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The report about the car crash in Krishnagiri (on the Bangalore-Chennai express-way) resulting in the death of two young men, and serious injuries to a young lady, published in your columns on the 29th, under the caption 'car did 90 km in one hour', made extremely sad reading.

The whole idea of building 'tolled' express-ways is to enable fast travel, and, with modern cars matching up in performance, 90 kmph speed is passe'. Now, out of the toll amounts collected, apart from keeping the roads in good repair, one would have expected that the contractors are required to carry out rigorous patrolling to ensure that traffic violations (by a local bus), of the kind that led to the accident, do not happen. Very clearly, that's not quite the case, turning these express-ways into veritable death-traps. The bereaved relatives will be doing a great service to the public by lodging hefty compensation claims in order that appropriate lessons are learnt for the future.

Also, no credible effort seems to have ever been put in by the State in educating the rural folk living along these road stretches, and using them for their daily chores, on even basic safety aspects.

 

The above forms the text of the letter sent to Times of India, Bangalore.

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Vasanth's picture

Increasing Fatal Accidents on the Indian Highways

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In India, with the economic growth, people are earning more and more money and spending for unwanted luxuries. One such expenditure is the 'fun car drive'. Although expressways are meant for safer and smoother commute, our car drivers do not follow any discipline thinking 'nothing will happen'. Even the basics such as seat belts are not used on the highways nor the speed is reduced even near junctions and small villages and towns. Small cars are even pushed to 120+.

In the US for example, although there are expressways without any interference and big cars starting from Corolla/Civic as the base car, speed is limited to 65mph which is equivalent to 100 kmph. Only in Turnpikes it is allowed upto 75mph. People following lane discipline with these speed limits will make drive safer.

It is not so in India. Although we have international cars, we do not have the international standards driving attitude nor international standard police to keep the drivers in control. Also there can be sudden surprises on the highways from the neighbouring villages. So, it is always advisible to travel by Buses (although not as safe as trains, but far better than cars) / Trains in India between cities irrespective of Road Conditions.

s_yajaman's picture

Highways to hell?

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Vasanth,

Can't agree with you more. If the US with it's excellent Interstates and educated, largely law abiding drivers thinks that 100 kmph is about as fast as highway traffic should move, I can't see how Indians think that driving at 150 kmph makes sense.

My own speed limit inside the city is 50kmph and on the highways is 80-85 kmph (including the NICE road). My rationale is as follows

 

a. 100,000 people die each year in India in road accidents. My bet would be that no more than 100 set out to die. I certainly don't want to be part of the other 99900 people.

b. While one maybe the greatest driver on earth with the greatest car, one does not control what another person does. I have seen too many instances of trucks coming on the wrong side, people darting across, cows, etc etc.

c. Braking distances vary with the square of the vehicle speed. If it takes 10m to stop from 30kmph, it will take 40m at 60kmph and 90m at 90kmph. This follows from Newton's second law which has not been disproved in the last 400 years.

d. If you are going at 100kmph for a long time, cutting your speed to 70kmph feels slow. But, you realize you are going pretty quick only when you have to brake. Steady velocity is deceptive. I have gone around in taxis in Bangkok at 150 kmph on their elevated motorways and once the speed drops to 100, you feel as though you are crawling! Your sense of speed does not exist, which is dangerous.

e. Most of us don't know the limits of our cars on turns. Most of us will not know how to respond if the rear wheels lose grip.

f. Tyres - not sure whether our tyres are designed for extended runs at more than 100 kmph. Tyres get very, very hot and the tyre pressure can go up a lot. Burst tyres were common on the Bombay-Pune expressways and led to terrible accidents. Tyre wear increases a lot after 80kmph and your tyre life comes down.

g. Last but not least - I have seen far too many people zipping past me only to find them at the next toll gate or traffic light. I drove to Mysore some months back. I did not cross 80 kmph. It took me about 2.5 hrs. But we all arrived without our hearts pounding. For me the drive is half the fun and not just the destination. We stop, take photographs, stretch, etc.

 

Srivathsa

 

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Vasanth's picture

It is nice to drive - but it is the fatal accidents which bother

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I know it is fun to take cars, stop in between, have food and snapes and enjoy. Even, we can reach home without hassles of Auto/Bus after reaching destination city. I do really like it. It is the fatal accidents which bothers me the most. For that I am suggesting that Trains are the safest followed by the buses.

I can't imagine loosing friends or family members just because of a car drive. Although we may be slow and control of speed, don't know what happens the next moment. One such recent incident was my family friend who was driving on a newly bought Suzuki Swift with ABS/Airbags from Mysore to Bangalore. On a 'U' turn, suddenly a truck took U turn and hit the car which was at around 80kmph. The car rolled down. My friend lost his mother on the spot, father is bed ridden, friend had fracture of both hand and leg, his daughter's eyes were lost. My friend is in complete depression after that incident. After seeing this heart breaking moment, I am very strict on highway drive. It is just an example of 'unforeseen' incidents that might occur.

I was travelling by Bus / Train only from years together before buying car. I will continue the same even after buying the car.

This is what I follow. I don't know for some people it makes sense and some it doesn't and some agree and some do not. 

We live only once. 

 

silkboard's picture

Something I witnessed first hand

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I remember reading some study very recently that accident victim count has more than doubled (I think the actual rise was said to be more than 300%, dont recall the article now so playing safe) since the Bangalore Mysore highway got remodeled.

Let me narrate this one incident I witnessed. Returning from Mysore, about 20-25 kms before Maddur, there was this Innova, doing 90 kmph+ and swerving right to left to overtake cars and trucks. It appeared behind us, we are doing 70, almost rammed into us, and then overtook from left without giving us the chance to cut right. After overtaking us, it got stuck behind a slowish truck in right lane, and a motorbike with two riders on the left lane. The Innova honked furiously, and after about half a minute, decided to squeeze in between the two vehicles. In the process, it brushed the motorbike, and we could see two bodies fly in the air and the roll on the side of the road. It happened about 40-50 meters ahead of us.

What happened next was shocking. The Innova sped away as fast as it could. Our blood just boiled, and after noticing that a few cars did stop to check the victims (hope they survived), we decide to catch the Innova. Good decision or bad, we tailed that vehicle. It must be a petrol Innova, our Baleno couldn't keep up. And we could not risk the maneuvers the Innova was upto. By the time we lost sight of this car, we had reached Maddur, we stopped as soon as we saw the first cop.

The cop didn't seem bothered at all! He said he forgot to carry his radio today, so can't talk to his counterparts watching ahead. He half seriously said he will do something about it, and send an ambulance, but that was it. A nicer and diligent cop would have suspected us as well, would have check our vehicle for marks and dents, but none of that.

So 5-10 minutes wasted with the cop meant that we had no chance of tailing the Innova as well. End of story. All I remember now is an Innova with a number plate that started with KA09.

We felt so helpless and shocked that day. The reckless folks just get away, and the innocent die. If you were to put the blame on one thing, it has to be the fact that highway upgrades or constructions dont involve commensurate investments to upgrade policing and enforcement infrastructure. This one dimensional approach can only give us more deaths and horror on our highways.

Vasanth's picture

That's why trains or buses are far safer on Highways

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That's why I was recommending Public Transport on the highways. For example for Mysore, every 1 minute there is a Bus and the conductors and drivers will be pleading the passengers to get into their Bus. There is no need for a car drive here. Double track and improvement of train service is also important to reduce road usage and mainly save lives. Before 4 laning of Mysore road, people were travelling in trains, but after 4 laning, people switched over to road and car.

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