Maximum fatalities on state highways were reported in UP (6,385), recording 16.1% of the total 39,624 deaths, followed by Maharashtra with 3,804 deaths (9.6%). The highest number of expressway accident deaths was reported in UP (761), 54.8% of the total 1,389, followed by Maharashtra (167) with 12%.
Maharashtra can do without the dubious No. 2 distinction in terms of deaths on its highways, both national and state. While the state government needs to re-examine black spots and make the licencing process stringent, the focus should equally be on building safer highways with better road engineering and on putting in place an effective enforcement mechanism.
According to sources, drones may soon be deployed along the 95km Mumbai-Pune Expressway for vigilance. An official from SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-profit involved with road safety, said: “If a vehicle halts on the expressway, the drones will alert the state highway police to place a 100m barricade behind it for the benefit of other motorists. We are awaiting a few permissions to launch the project.”
“There is also a need to continuously monitor all the black spots in the state and implement round-the-clock drives against speeding, lane-cutting, drunk driving, riding without helmets/seatbelts and signal jumping. We need to discipline motorists as most mishaps are caused by human error,” said senior RTO official Sanjay Sasane.
Piyush Tewari, CEO and founder of SaveLIFE Foundation, said: “State governments are yet to fully implement the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act 2019, which was passed to reduce road crash deaths. The latest figures call for introspection by all those who’ve been resisting or opposing the implementation of the new law.”
Meanwhile, a short course is being developed at the Mumbai RTOs for road safety, as the NCRB data showed that 34 highway deaths in 2019 were due to ‘physical fatigue’ and driver error. The course, sources said, will include a video clip that will be shown to commercial drivers, especially those operating heavy vehicles like trucks, tempos and buses.
The NCRB report added: “As many as 97 deaths were due to vehicles parking at road shoulders, 139 due to defects in mechanical condition of motor vehicles and 1,489 pedestrians died in state mishaps.”