Killer Expressway: Hi-tech systems fail to curb fatal accidents
New Delhi: With fatal accidents now a regular feature of the Yamuna Expressway, and data pointing towards lacklustre enforcement of traffic rules, serious doubts are being raised on whether the concerned authorities are taking the appropriate measures to curb accidents that are a result of easily avoidable and controllable errors.
Moreover, there is a concern whether the funds accumulated as part of the Uttar Pradesh Road Safety Fund Rules are being spent in the right ways to gather and analyse data on accidents to find solutions for the unabated accidents on the "killer expressway".
The Road Safety Fund Rules came into effect from July 2014, according to which 50 percent of the fund's share should come from the Transport and Police Departments. There is a management committee for the fund headed by the Chief Secretary of UP government.
Official figures show that in 2014, the fund saw Rs 12 crore being deposited; in 2015-16, it was Rs 25 crore; and in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the fund received was Rs 50 crore.
Further, there are specific clauses in these rules that require a focus on collecting and analysing road accident data, taking necessary steps for safe plying of vehicles on the expressway, and the setting up of a Road Accident Data Analysis Management System (RADAMS).
However, according to court documents filed by the state government of UP, the Road Safety Fund has so far been used to set up 12 publicity vans at the zonal level to spread awareness; install six interceptors in the 165.5 km-long carriageway to check drunk driving; and conduct essay competitions for school and college students to spread awareness about road safety.
Moreover, the government has said that the mandate of setting up the RADAMS has been considered by the management committee of the Road Safety Fund Rules and that it "is under process".
In addition to this, the Yamuna Expressway is said to have a Highway Traffic Management System with surveillance cameras at every 5 km, Video Incident Detection System, Speed Monitoring and Vehicle Recognition System, Variable Message Signs, and a Meteorological system for speed monitoring.
The carriageway also has technology that alerts one of the three toll plazas every time a speed-violating vehicle approaches. By this, a speeding vehicle's offence is captured on camera and displayed on the next toll plaza.
Despite these 'extravagant' measures to ensure road safety, data first reported by the Millennium Post has shown that only 0.07 percent of overspeeding vehicles have been challaned. Even though the technology to identify offending vehicles exists and is in place, a large reason for why most are not prosecuted is the jurisdictional mess that the high-speed carriageway contains.
The stretch that connects Greater Noida to Agra goes through six districts namely, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Hathras, Mathura and Agra.
Now, while the expressway operators identify vehicles that do not stick to traffic rules, it is up to the local law enforcement agencies of the respective districts to take up the role of prosecuting such offenders. It remains to be seen how this jurisdictional cluster leading to lacklustre law enforcement is resolved by concerned authorities.