Long road to safety

Inaugurated in August 2012, the 165-km-long six-lane Yamuna Expressway passes through four districts of Uttar Pradesh — Gautam Budh Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra.

Inaugurated in August 2012, the 165-km-long six-lane Yamuna Expressway passes through four districts of Uttar Pradesh — Gautam Budh Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

After the recent accident that claimed the lives of three AIIMS doctors on Yamuna Expressway, "The Hindu" drives down 165-km and talks to officials about reasons behind the accidents

Yamuna Expressway was inaugurated in August 2012 and 531 persons have died in 4,918 accidents since it was opened, said engineering consultancy company RITES. Over 2.4 crore vehicles have violated the speed limit on the expressway in less than six years but only 31,000 drivers were fined, and not a single challan has been issued for drunken driving.

The 165-km-long six-lane expressway passes through four districts — Gautam Budh Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra — but traffic police of each district blames the other for not taking necessary action against violators.

Speeding vehicles

“We have a system to identify speeding vehicles and fine them with the help of traffic police at toll gates but we can’t monitor other activities such as lane jumping or rash driving,” said Rakesh Kumar, a patrol officer with JP Infratech Limited. Mr. Kumar and three other staff members patrol a 20-km-stretch of the expressway, and assist drivers in case of vehicular break down. He is also responsible for any accidents or emergency situations on the stretch.

“Drivers do not follow traffic rules. They often jump lanes or halt their vehicle in the middle of the road, which leads to accidents. Our patrol van was hit by a driver a few days ago. The patrol van was parked on the side of the road but the car driver was driving in an inebriated state,” he added.

Recently, three AIIMS doctors were killed on the expressway while on the way to Agra. “I was not on duty the day the three doctors died but I was told that the car rammed a truck that was driving on a lane meant for overtaking,” he said.

Officials of JP Infratech Limited, which operates the expressway, said they keep safety features on the expressway updated as per recommendations of the authorities and the traffic police. However, the UP Police have just three police posts for the entire expressway. The police officers at Maat police post on the expressway said they receive at least five calls about accidents on the stretch each day.

“It is not easy to inform family members about the demise of their loved ones in an accident. I usually ask family members to come quickly saying their loved ones are in a serious condition. I do not have the courage to tell them the truth,” said Shiv Prasad, incharge, Maat police post, Yamuna Expressway.

“We have installed digital boards that display the registration number and speed of speeding vehicles. The speed limit for light vehicles is 100 km per hour, but most vehicles cross that limit. We keep telling drivers about hazards of drunken driving and speeding but in vain,” said an official of the expressway operator.

Mohammad Nezam Hassan, Additional Superintendent of Police, UP Traffic Directorate, said, “We had a meeting chaired by the Principal Secretary of the Transport Department last week on safety and security on all highways across the State. All authorities governing national highways, State highways and expressways were called to discuss traffic management and road safety.”

Mr. Hassan said traffic police had confiscated over 11,000 driving licences for speeding and drunken driving across UP and sent them for cancellation to the Transport Departments concerned, but only three licences were cancelled. He added that better coordination is needed among all enforcement agencies for safety on roads.

Yamuna Expressway

Total length: 165 km

The six-lane expressway passes through Gautam Budh Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra

Nearest hospital: 30 km

Speed limit

100 km/h for light motor vehicles

60 km/h for heavy vehicles

Deadly route

4,928 total number of accidents reported*

531 total deaths

2.4 crore total number of vehicles that violated speed limit

31,147 total vehicles that were fined

12 a.m.-3 a.m. hours when most accidents are reported

3 p.m.-6 p.m. hours when least number of accidents are reported

Reasons for accidents

30 % speeding

35 % fatigue or tiredness

12 % tyre burst

3% mechanical failure

5% pedestrian or animals crossing the expressway

Driver error

After overtaking, drivers continue to drive on overtaking lane


Drunken driving

Badly maintained cars, especially tyres

SOS booths dysfunctional

All orange-coloured booths along the expressway, where distressed drivers can call for assistance, are non-functional

Unauthorised pickup points

Bus and truck drivers stop at several unauthorised points to pick up passengers. This sometimes lead to accidents

Unauthorised food joints

Truck drivers park their vehicle on the expressway to eat food at these dhabas

Facilities promised on e-way but not delivered

Air lifting in case of accidents for timely medical assistance

Surveillance and prosecution of speeding drivers

Regular traffic awareness programmes for drivers

System to curb overspeeding

More speed-monitoring cameras to be installed on expressway

Speed challan along with toll receipt

Digital display board to highlight speeding vehicle

Google Maps to notify drivers in case they are speeding

Audit report

The Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) has suggested a few safety checks in its audit report on the Yamuna Expressway

New speed breakers

New air filling stations, including nitrogen gas filling stations

Levelling of bumps above underpasses

Crash barriers on dividers

More high-tech speed check cameras

More rumble strips to wake up drowsy drivers

(*Since Yamuna Expressway opened in August 2012 till February 28, 2018 | Source: RITES and YEIDA)

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 11:55:57 PM |

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