PUNE: After the tragic accident on the Samruddhi Mahamarg Expressway Friday night, the Maharashtra Transport Vehicle Owners and Drivers Association has demanded strict safety measures for drivers following this route. While the association has blamed poor and incomplete infrastructure on the highway, it has demanded truck- and bus- bays after every 60 to 70 km. The association members on Sunday sought to raise awareness amongst drivers about following preventive measures on the route.
Baba Shinde, president, Maharashtra Transport Vehicle Owners and Drivers Association, said, “From the last few months, we have noticed that vehicles immediately catch fire after any accident despite them being new vehicles with advanced technology. Earlier, such instances were rare so all of us transporters are now worried about this and working on it. There is a fire extinguisher inside the buses or trucks but the speed at which the fire spreads across the entire vehicle is too much and there is no time to react. Our demand from the state and central government is to conduct an inquiry and study in this case with the help of national institutes such as ARAI that conduct quality checks and other tests of vehicles.”
“Another important thing which we are doing on an immediate basis is that we have requested the central highway transport department to provide a list of black spots on all national highways as well as major state highways through which our heavy vehicles and buses travel on a daily basis. We are going to give the details of these black spots to drivers travelling on the respective highways so that they can take extra care while navigating these spots,” Shinde said.
Asked specifically about the Samruddhi Mahamarg highway, Shinde said, “This highway was inaugurated in a hurry and it is a long highway which does not have wayside amenities and infrastructure that needs to be constructed. Our drivers are not trained to drive continuously for longer periods of time; they need to take breaks in between but there are no restrooms, truck- or bus- bays to halt. Our demand is to immediately take necessary steps to stop people from dying on this highway.”
While Rajan Junavane, president of the Pune Bus and Car Owners’ Association, said, “When any such major accident occurs and people die only then does the government become alert which should not be the case. The state and central governments should proactively take measures while constructing highways to avoid accidents. The driver is the main person on highways; unfortunately, there is no proper training for safe driving in our country. Our demand from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is to start a skills-based course for drivers for two to three months in which they should be taught about modern technology in vehicles along with safety measures to be taken in case of accidents.”