Extending over 53 kilometres and marked by a number of curves including many hair-pin bends, the Ooty-Mettupalayam stretch of the National Highway 67 figured prominently in the observance of the Road Safety week which concluded in various parts of the Nilgiris district recently.
A concern shared by many participants was that due to a number of factors, driving on the stretch was becoming increasingly risky.
Listing the factors, the Regional Transport Officer, the Nilgiris D.Venkataraman told The Hindu here on Tuesday that reckless driving was the main reason for the road becoming unsafe.
Pointing out that overtaking at inappropriate places was on the rise despite warning signs being displayed at a number of places, he said that high speed and poor judgment were a lethal combination. Most of the drivers indulging in such recklessness were tourists who were below 30 years of age.
He lamented that drunken driving was also increasing on the stretch.
To a query, Mr.Venkataraman said that on an average, 1000 to 1500 vehicles used the road everyday. During the summer tourist season, it was more than 10,000.
Stating that only by enhancing awareness can such driving be controlled, Mr. Venkataraman regretted that of late, overtaking on the wrong side not only by motorcyclists but also car drivers was on the rise.
When asked how the risk could be reduced, he said that if the wild bushes on the sides of the road were removed, motorists would have a better chance of averting accidents.
Meanwhile, regular users of the road pointed out that at many places, revetments were broken and railings were missing. This has only increased the chances of inexperienced drivers going off the highway.
Referring to a meeting organised by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) here recently to seek public views on improving the road, road users opined that if long term plans were not put in place soon, the risks would only escalate. Boulders brought down by landslides should be removed without delay, they felt.