The section of the highway in which former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry died in a car accident on Sunday will likely be declared a “black spot” by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
A black spot is a road stretch or section where accidents happen frequently due to a design flaw. According to the Ministry, road accident black spot is a stretch of National Highway of about 500 meters in length in which either five accidents or 10 deaths took place in the past three years.
“Currently, it (the site) is not a designated black spot. We will declare it a black spot if investigations suggest that the spot is accident-prone,” a government official told Indian Express.
There were 5,803 designated black spots in the highways, as per Road Transport and Highways Ministry data from 2016 to 2018.
Of these, there are about 25 black spots in Maharashtra and two on the same highway stretch where the crash took place. However, the exact spot where the accident happened has not been designated as a black spot yet.
Palghar police in Maharashtra have obtained CCTV footage that shows the car passing through the Dapchari check post in Palghar district at 2.21 pm on Sunday, news agency PTI quoted an official as saying.
Another police officer said the person behind the wheel had covered a distance of 20 km in just nine minutes, meaning the luxury car was being driven at a speed of 180-190 km per hour.
The car hit a road divider on a bridge over the Surya river on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway at around 3 pm, killing Mistry (54) and his friend Jahangir Pandole, who were in the back seats.
The death of Mistry has initiated a debate on road safety issues such as check on over-speeding, wearing of seat belts for rear passengers and inconsistent road designs.
Experts have pressed for the need to keep a check on speeding vehicles and making the use of seat belts for rear passengers mandatory. They have also stressed that roads in Delhi should have consistent designs to avoid any accidents.
“Inconsistency in road design can be spotted at a few stretches in the national capital which include Eastern and Western Peripheral expressways, Outer Ring Road, Ring Road among others. For example, at some points a six-lane road reduces into a four-lane stretch and uneven surfaces can also be witnessed at many locations. These issues pose a threat to driving and shall be done away with," Chief Scientist, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi, S Velmurugan told PTI.
He said there are three major takeaways from Sunday’s accident which include that roads, especially highways, must have consistent designs, proper signages and the awareness about wearing seat belts in the rear and enforcement of the law.
Velmurugan said that proper signages should be put up at locations where they are either missing or not visible. He also called for strict enforcement of laws in terms of wearing rear seat belts and speeding on city roads.
“During night hours or lean traffic hours people tend to go well beyond the prescribed speed limit on Delhi roads so a mechanism of strong enforcement should be put in place to check violators. The traffic police should also start penalising those who do not wear seat belt while sitting in the rear of the car," Velmurugan said.
According to the Delhi Transport Department’s Road Crash Fatalities Report 2021, as many as 1,238 persons were killed in road accidents compared to 1,866 dead in 2012, a 37 per cent decline in the last 10 years.
Motorcyclists (both riders and pillion riders) accounted for 43 per cent and pedestrians for 42 per cent of all the deaths. A total of 93 per cent of the deaths occurred among vulnerable road users which include pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and autorickshaw occupants- both motorised and electric, the had report said.
According to International Road Federation (IRF), India accounts for more than 11 per cent of the road accidents deaths worldwide with 426 lives lost every day and 18 every hour. President, IRF India Chapter, Satish Parakh said, “We urge the Union and the state governments to make every possible effort to change the road safety culture while establishing clear road safety norms. Global agencies involved in road safety have blamed lack of policies and enforcement as the main reasons behind increasing road fatalities in the country."
However, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S S Yadav said there has been a decadal decline in the road accidents from 2011 to 2021.
He said post the coronavirus pandemic, the movement of the road will increase. Yadav said the traffic police has a dedicated road safety cell which takes care of awareness measures for the road users including the pedestrians and motorcyclists.
“We conduct road safety programmes for commercial vehicle drivers also," he told PTI.
(With agency inputs)