Driving at high speed and lane indiscipline have emerged as problem areas at the Urse toll plaza on the Pune-Mumbai expressway where five people have died and 11 were left injured in two similar accidents since October 2. Despite the gruesome accidents, caused due to human error, little has changed in the way motorists drive as they refuse to slow down even as the toll plaza approaches.
Most motorists seemed confident of stopping at will even if they were driving at a breakneck speed just a few meters away from the plaza. The rumble strips, meant to slow down vehicles, too fail to deter them. At high speeds, motorists cut into the lane which is vacant or has less number of vehicles in queue to pay the toll. In the absence of any deterrents, lane cutting happens in a matter-of-fact way.
There are seven lanes, each earmarked for different types of vehicles. Two lanes are meant for cars and one lane each for heavy vehicles, buses, light vehicles, VIP vehicles and Talegaon/Chakan exit. But no one follows the demarcation. One can find cars entering lanes meant for buses and heavy vehicles and trucks queuing up behind cars.
Car drivers seem to be in a great hurry. But why just blame them. No one sticks to the lane said a staffer of the IRB, the firm which manages the toll plaza. Most car drivers approach the toll plaza at a high speed and struggle to stop at the booth. Even drivers of state transport buses were found overspeeding. The trouble compounds at night as every motorist wants to leave the naka at the earliest.
A car driver at the plaza said, Nobody bothers to slow down at the rumble strips. There are two notice boards at 1,000 meters and 500 meters before the toll naka. But drivers just don’t slow down.
As part of the highway police’s plan to check overspeeding at the plaza, rumble strips on the Mumbai-Pune corridor were repainted on Tuesday afternoon. A driver pointed out that the rumble strips are located at least 500 meters away from the plaza. So even if a driver slows down, he tends to regain speed before stopping again. Motorist said that, the rumbles should extend all the way up to the payment point. Besides, the lanes should be clearly earmarked so that the highway police can take action against the violators. He added that, instilling discipline becomes all the more difficult in the absence of round-the-clock policing. The mere presence of the one or two policemen at the toll plaza will deter motorists from overspeeding and cutting lanes.
Superintendent of police (highways), Pune region, said the accidents indicate that drivers lack professional driving skills and lapse of judgment while driving.
Times of India