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Highway Safety in India

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Infrastructure

I was recently driving on the NICE Road between PES College to Somapura Intersection. My car was the only car and I was cruising at around 90kph. While I was nearing the intersection climbing an uphill unable to see what is there on the otherside of the road after it flattens, suddenly I saw 6-7 people standing in the middle of the road which they are not supposed to be since it is a freeway. Suddenly they ran into either sides of the road. By the time I see they all dispersed, a brand new BMW without a driver was parked on the middle of the road. I was surprised and was very close to it. I had to manoevure to one side of the road after applying sudden brakes. My family in the car was shocked. Luckily we were all wearing seat belts and car was equipped with ABS due to which a major accident was diverted. I found that they were shooting a movie using that car and camera was on the other side of the car without putting any traffic cones or atleast some tree bbranch how they put in India.

Another incidence on the NICE Road is while I was exiting the Somapura interchange towards left while I was observing on what is coming from right side, an young guy on a Punto without even stopping at the Interchange to observe what is coming directly merged onto the NICE Peripheral Road from the Link Road. A Truck approaching was about to hit this guy. At the final moment the truck driver pulled it onto the median space where there is lot of grass avoiding the accident.

On the BETL, since the speed limit is 80, I was exactly at 80 and on the right lane. All the cars are coming at 80+ kph and blinking and honking to me to change my lane and leave way to them. I cannot change lane since there are two wheelers going on the left lane. It is so irritating. 

In most of the highways, vehicles going fast will come behind you and start honking and blinking lights asking to get away from his way rather than himself/herself changing the lane and overtake. Very few people in India know about Blind Spots, Lane Changing Rules, Overtaking etc.

Highways in India are considered as death traps with plenty of fatal accidents regularly happening and highway control authorities not analyzing and rectifying the root cause.

Some of the major problems are:

1.  First and foremost is lack of driver discipline and Masti Nature of drivers when they enter highways.

2. Absence of Monitoring and Patroling.

3. Sudden humps and Barricades without prior notification boards.

4. Sudden 'U' turns.

5. People of Villages suddenly running across the roads sometimes with some tools.

and the list goes on.

Primary problem is the lack of driver discipline and respect to other driver which cannot be changed easily. This will lead to loss of so many lives including the driver himself and his entire family for the driver's irresponsible nature.

Looking at all these, I feel do we need so many investments on the highway and flyover infrastructure. Is this really worth or is it inviting more danger to our lives. A common man who cannot afford car has to risk his life by driving on a 2 wheeler here.  On the other hand if a rail infrastructure or any other PT infrastructure is built, every class of people can use it , it will be a greener , economical and first and foremost is a safer solution of commute. For instance, if BETL would have been replaced with a Metro, it would have helped all class of people, it would have been greener, economical in this ever increasing petrol prices and first and foremost would have been lot more safer. Same is the case of NICE road, we could have had a circular rail network. Ofcourse we need ring roads for trucks to bypass the city. Toll for the trucks should be less and cars should be more.

Cars are increasing everyday due to attractive salaries and the 'DRIVE' culture is increasing in India day by day taking it from the west without taking discipline followed there. So is our infrastructure with planners giving primary importance to Roads than rails to attract the higher class society  like in the case of BETL which was built on the pressure of few industrialists. Same is the case of ORR where a BRT is planned but we have flyovers everywhere without any clue of BRT during their construction.

Primary question is can a Car culture like America workout in India in the sameway with this indisciplined driving culture? Is the investment on such projects worth it or should the same be put for rail infrastructure?

 

 

 

 

Comments

Naveen's picture

Highway speeds

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Primary problem is the lack of driver discipline and respect to other driver which cannot be changed easily

Very true - you hit the nail on the head with this statement. However, the general public find it very convenient to blame traffic police & local authorities for all ills when they should either be blaming themselves or the powers that be that take major decisions, such as building expressways without much thought about road safety.

An idea, proposed long  ago, to install speed controllers on all vehicles (including cars) has remained dormant due to pressure from car makers (& car lobbies). The highway scene would been far more safer if vehicle speed controllers were to limit speeds to 80kmph.

The NHDP programme for building expressways, though necessary for the long-term, must have been preceded by a similar programme for improving rail infrastructure, which is still muddling along at snail's pace since it has long been accorded secondary importance, though it accounts for the majority travel, at least for inter-city movements.

 

Vasanth's picture

Increasing Volvo and Merc Accidents on Indian Highways

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Volvos and Mercedes Buses improved the standard and speed of Bus Travel in India with long distance travellers like Bangalore-Mumbai, Bangalore-Chennai switching over to buses from trains.

Initially, due to the increased cost of these buses, only experienced drivers were put on duty. Nowadays with increasing business, more and more travels are putting more buses with or without experienced drivers resulting in fatal accidents.

 

Here is a link which keeps track of Volvo and Merc Accidents : http://travelbyvolvo.blogspot.com/search/label/bus%20accident

Is it the time to return back to trains again hoping we don't have accidents there? Who knows with Durontos running non-stop to Delhi, Kolkata etc.. driver fatigue may result in a signal jump.

 

Vasanth's picture

Not so nice about NICE Road

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Yesterday it was a shocking and sad news when 20 year old Engineering student lost her life on NICE road near Kengeri tollgate.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/article3001865.ece

The driver was driving at around 140kph and overtaking a truck. A foolish act by the driver costed life of his friend. I wonder why parents give car to their kids at early 20s. Good that there were no other vehicles nearby, otherwise even they might have become victim for this foolish act.For us Indians, especially Indians who live in Metro cities, empty road means unlimited speed. We never consider the limitations of car and the highway. 

I am regularly seeing lots of fatalities on the NICE road. I am feeling very bad about the NICE road. The amount of toll they collect and the infrastructure they provide is no where proportional.

After this accident, they had to call a regular ambulance. NICE is not having ambulances to support their freeway users. Nor they are having any infrastructure to support a freeway like tow away vehicles, active patrolling, speed guns etc. It has just become a build a road and collect toll business which does not make any difference compared to our NHs whereas the tolls are 10 times that of an NH.

BETL on the Hosur Road initially had all the speed guns working and people were sticking to 80 kph limit. Nowadays, there is nothing as such. Recently while driving on BETL, I was limiting myself to 80 and all the vehicles from back are honking to say get out of my way.. Where is the speed limit? Answer is only in front of police mobile speed guns

rs's picture

The problem with NICE road is

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The problem with NICE road is not the road - its the idiots who drive on it. Trucks periodically suddenly stop and park on the side - with no lights in the night. Autos somehow sometimes get on - and try thier usual stunts. Animals - well that cannot really be helped. A few years ago some idiot truck driver  decided to turn around by going in to the median. Got stuck - blocked the right  half the road and promptly some car driving at 100km/h slammed in to it resulting in a pretty horrific accident.

At the end of the day, the problem is systemic. There is no simple solution. The solution has to be - make sure drivers are trained well before they drive. Enforce rules everywhere. And then perhaps provide things like ambulances etc. If rules are not enforced then there is no hope.

Frankly, there is no hope. The other day there was a jam outside Yeswantpur RTO because people decide to do whatever they want - go on any side of the road, enter the road from anywhere etc. This in front of the RTO..

 

Ramesh

 

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