40% fatal crashes due to rear-end collisions: highway audit

Written by Avishek G Dastidar
| New Delhi |



Updated: November 29, 2021 8:53:16 am





The study — a pilot audit of data on four highway stretches in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra totalling 557 km one way — also found several engineering defects such as gaps in medians, missing crash barriers, concrete structures kept along the road etc, all of which added to accidents and resultant fatalities.

Rear-end collisions account for around 40 per cent of fatal accidents on highway stretches, with driver “sleepiness and fatigue” behind many of these crashes, according to an audit initiated by the government to bring down fatalities on national highways.

The study — a pilot audit of data on four highway stretches in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra totalling 557 km one way — also found several engineering defects such as gaps in medians, missing crash barriers, concrete structures kept along the road etc, all of which added to accidents and resultant fatalities. In the Agra-Etawah stretch, for instance, 7,500 such engineering faults were identified. The other three corridors that were audited are Etawah-Chakeri in UP, and Pune-Satara and Satara-Kagal in Maharashtra.

The four audited stretches had witnessed over 6,500 accidents over the past three years, of which over 1,600 were serious and fatal ones.

The auditors, NGO SaveLife Foundation, went through medical records of trauma care and data by highway concessionaires and found that fatigue, especially among drivers of commercial vehicles, led to them ramming into stationary vehicles or slow-moving vehicles from the rear. “There were no tyre marks which means brakes were not applied. The drivers most likely fell asleep and drove into another vehicle,” said Piyush Tewari, SaveLife founder and member of the National Road Safety Council.

According to the audit, apart from usual deficiencies such as drink driving, riding without helmets, lack of proper illumination in some stretches, lack of enforcement by state governments etc, what has also contributed to accidents are local factors related to the weather.

Stretches in Uttar Pradesh had a lot of accidents occurring due to lack of visibility in the winter months. In the Agra-Etawah section, for instance, around 39 per cent of the fatalities and 32 per cent of the crashes took place in misty/foggy conditions.

Maharashtra had the problem of “hydroplaning” in the monsoon months leading to vehicles going out of control.

Between 50 and 60 per cent of the accidents on the audited stretches took place in daylight, with collision of motorised two-wheelers and trucks accounting for a majority of those.

The audit also assessed local trauma care set-up and found that instead of placing ambulances closer to accident prone zones, they were stationed at equidistant locations.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has set aside 12 more stretches totaling around 4,000 km across 15 states — which contribute to 85 per cent of all accidents and fatalities in a year on Indian roads — to be audited by SaveLife Foundation. This, after the ministry noted that the NGO had carried out a similar audit on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and, following the implementation of the recommendations, fatalities reduced by 52 per cent between 2016 and 2020.

Ministry officials said that based on the findings and recommendations of the audit of the four stretches, rectifications are being carried out.

India has the dubious distinction of witnessing around 5 lakh road accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths from them every year.

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