Despite thin traffic, fatalities on E-way close to last year as empty roads often prompted motorists to cross speed limit

Pune: Travelling on the Pune-Mumbai expressway has been risky this year as per the accidents data shared by the state highway police as empty road during lockdown prompted motorists to cross the speed limit. At least 58 persons have lost their lives on the e-way between January and October this year as compared to 65 deaths during the same period last year.

Despite lockdown for around four months and less number of vehicles on the e-way, fatal accidents on the stretch are close to the last year’s figure.

In 2019, between January and October, 56 fatal accidents claimed 65 lives while this year during the same time span, 53 fatal accidents happened with 58 deaths on the e-way. While the total number of accidents is comparatively less than last year — in 2019, 255 accidents happened from January to October and 121 accidents happened on the e-way in 2020 during the same period.

The number of fatal deaths on the e-way despite the lockdown is attributed to behavioural change in drivers. “It was expected that there would be less number of fatal accidents and even deaths on the e-way this year. But, the data shows a rise, and the major reason behind it is behavioural change among drivers. Many motorists tend to speeding when they find the e-way empty or with less traffic during the lockdown period. As there was a lockdown in the country for almost four months and only emergency vehicles were allowed to travel, still accident figure did not reduce,” said Tanmay Pendse, an activist working for the safety of motorists using the expressway.

“It is necessary to follow all the rules and regulations while travelling on the expressway. The tendency to speeding on empty roads or highways is very risky for drivers and co-passengers. It has caused fatalities on the e-way. I appeal to drivers using the e-way to strictly follow the speed limits and other rules.” he said.

Talking about the accidents on the e-way, Sanjay Jadhav, superintendent of police, state highway police (HSP), Pune said, “We have worked on several things to improve the vehicular movement and safety on the e-way. Our highway police team is continuously taking action on speeding vehicles, placing reflectors and, during the lockdown period, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) carried out several infrastructure works. And as there was fewer numbers of vehicles on the e-way during the lockdown months, there was some behavioural change noticed amongst drivers, including speeding. So, we mainly focused on our speed gun and seat belt action on the e-way to curb accidents. Also, the response time of our team to reach the accident spot has increased during this period.”

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