Don't drive rashly: a drone might be watching you

Pune Highway Police test a drone camera in the ghat section of the expressway.

Pune Highway Police test a drone camera in the ghat section of the expressway.  

An eye in the sky is better than several feet on the ground. The Maharashtra government is convinced about this, and has deployed drones for the first time on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to stop wayward drivers in their tracks.

The 95-km road has acquired a reputation for becoming a ‘death zone’, as reckless drivers cut lanes and ignore the speed limit.

Operating from four base stations, the drones will be at work round-the-clock, whirling over traffic to check rash driving and overtaking.

Drone-based enforcement was demonstrated over the weekend, and resulted in fines for 20 drivers for lane-cutting, police said. “We conducted the demonstration on Saturday and Sunday, between noon and 4 p.m. and used two drones in the ghat section [between the Lonavala exit and the Khalapur toll plaza] to monitor traffic on both sides,” said Amol Tambe, Superintendent of Police (Highways), Pune region.

The government looked skyward for a solution after accidents claimed 30 lives in three months and sparked off intense criticism.

The Shiv Sena, which is part of the ruling coalition, called the Expressway a “death trap.” Minister of State for Home (Urban) Deepak Vasant Kesarkar, who belongs to the Sena, said drones would be deployed on a pilot basis, because the incidents of rash driving were too many for the minuscule police teams to handle.

“CCTV cameras are not as effective as drones. Hence, we decided to deploy drone cameras to instil discipline,” Mr. Kesarkar said.

Just as the experiment started, a State Transport Shivneri Volvo bus and a truck collided near Talegaon toll centre early on Sunday, injuring two persons, who were shifted to a hospital at Nigdi.

Last month, six students died after their car rammed into a divider near Kamshet tunnel. On July 17, three businessmen returning to Mumbai from Pune were killed near the same spot after their car also hit a divider. In June, 17 persons were killed on the spot and over 35 were injured when a luxury bus hit two cars and crashed into a 20-foot ditch.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 7:08:30 PM |

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