31 January 2012
By Somit Sen
Stirred into action by the recent spate of accidents on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the apex body of transporters in India has proposed to set up emergency medical facilities, with doctors on call, at a distance of every 25 km on the highway.
“We have drafted the plan, which we will submit to the state government soon,” said Bal Malkit Singh, president of All-India Motor Transport Congress. According to him, their aim was to tie up with the government and help it set up emergency trauma centres on the accident-prone expressway, which lacks any system to tackle medical emergencies. “There should be four such centres on the 93-km long expressway. If accident victims can get medical assistance at these centres, instead of being taken to hospitals that are usually quite far away, they will have more chances of being saved. These centres, with doctors on call, should have proper medical equipment and ambulances ready to pick up victims,” Singh said, adding similar units should come up on other “killer” stretches as well, such as the one connecting Mumbai to Goa.
In the past 20 days, four major accidents have occurred on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, in which five persons died and 14 were injured. At one spot, 16 accidents have taken place in the past couple of months, when 18 people were killed and 70 critically injured.
Most accidents on the expressway are due to human error and involve truck and trailer drivers. According to Singh, if these drivers have the facilities to rest and have proper refreshment, they will be less fatigued. “We want the drivers to get proper rest, medical treatment and refreshment en route so that they stay alert while driving. Tired and hungry drivers and those with poor vision have been held responsible for accidents.” Accordingly, the transport body has proposed that along with the emergency units, resting rooms, meant for drivers of heavy motor vehicles, affordable food courts and parking lots should also be built. Arrangements also be made so that the truck drivers can get their eyes checked there.
“We propose separate zones where motorists can relax. There should be mechanics to inspect their vehicles and repair them for any faults,” Singh said.
The proposal also envisages the use of audio-visual aids to create awareness about road safety and accidents on the expressway. “We may put up newspaper clippings of accidents. It will serve as a caution to drivers and we will appeal to them to maintain a maximum 80 kmph,” he added.
Commending the plan, traffic expert and activist A V Shenoy said most highways in our country were ill-prepared to tackle medical emergencies. “We should either have a trauma centre every 25 km or adequate number of ambulances with trained para-medical staff on the route to save lives during the golden hour (first few hours of an accident). The police should also patrol the expressway with speed guns to catch those violating traffic norms,” he said. Echoing him, RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao said the authorities should ensure that no one crossed the speed limit. “Most want to speed over 80 kmph on the expressway. Unless everyone drives below the limit, accidents cannot be avoided on mishap-prone stretches.”
Mantralaya officials can take a view of the plan only after it is submitted to them. “But for now, there will be no new plan unveiled till the civic elections are over. But we will look into it after the polls are over,” said an official.
Expressway T he Mumbai-Pune Expressway, officially called Yashwantrao Chavan Mumbai-Pune Expressway, is India’s first six-lane concrete, high-speed expressway. It starts at Kalamboli near Panvel and ends at Dehu Road near Pune. The 93-km stretch, which has reduced travel time between Mumbai and Pune by around two-and-a-half hours, passes through the Western Ghats