Maharashtra launches zero fatality initiative on Expressway

Updated - February 24, 2016 06:30 pm IST

Published - February 24, 2016 12:00 am IST - MUMBAI:

In a major initiative, Maharashtra on Tuesday became the first State government to launch an initiative for road safety to transform the 95-km Mumbai-Pune Expressway into a ‘zero fatality corridor’ over the next five years.

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and road safety NGO SaveLIFE Foundation to reduce an average of 130 deaths per year in roads accidents on the Expressway.

Making it a first 360 degree intervention across engineering, emergency care, enforcement, and education, the zero fatality corridor initiative will collaborate with the Maharashtra Highway Police, IRB Infrastructure, DY Patil University, Ogilvy ad agency, JP Research India Ltd, BVG, which runs the 108 ambulance service, and 10 private and government hospitals on the vicinity of the Expressway.

Eknath Shinde, Minister of Public Works, and Vijay Deshmukh, his deputy, launched the initiative in the presence of MSRDC managing director RL Mopalwar, Additional Director General (Home) KP Bakshi, former Chief Secretary Jayant Banthia, and officials from Mahindra & Mahindra and the SaveLIFE Foundation at the MSRDC office at Bandra.

Speaking to The Hindu , founder and CEO of the Delhi-based SaveLife Foundation Piyush Tewari said: “JP Research India Ltd carried out a detailed per-km survey and analysis of the accidents and identified their causes at 37 accident-prone black spots over a two-year period. The survey showed that most fatalities happened to lack of emergency care intervention while transporting the accident victim to the hospital.”

The initiative then roped in Sanjay Oak, former dean of KEM hospital and Vice Chancellor of DY Patil University, to evolve an emergence care protocol with 10 hospitals in the vicinity of the Expressway.

“On the enforcement side, we plan to deploy radar-based camera technology to identify the speed and the driver even at night. We will distribute alcometers to check drunk driving. Based on inputs that there are certain spots where alcohol is served, we will conduct regular checks there,” Mr Tewari said.

Awareness among drivers

He said Ogilvy advertising agency had been roped in to develop a communication programme to create awareness among drivers regarding accidents.

“It will not only just preach but also teach techniques about how to keep distance between vehicles if you are driving at a particular speed,” he said.

A speed management test will be done to determine an ideal speed limit on the Expressway.

Asked why the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was chosen for this project, “If you look at national highways, the fatality average is one death every two km. But, on the Expressway, it is more than one death per km. The Yamuna Expressway also has lot of accidents, but the per-km death is less than one. So, we felt such an intervention was necessary on the Expressway. Besides, we have worked with 10 States, but found a committed partner in the MSRDC,” Mr Tewari said.

Three years of research

Mr Banthia, the chief mentor of the initiative at the SaveLIFE Foundation, said three years of research had gone into evolving the zero fatality corridor.

Mr Bakshi suggested that the MSRDC, which is now pitching for national and international infrastructure projects, should incorporate this initiative to make its bid for projects more attractive.

“As the Centre expands the national highways from 95,000 km to 200,000 km in the next few years, safety is going to be an important factor as speed and mobility improve,” Mr Mopalwar said.

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