The stretch between Kiwale toll post and Amrutanjan Point on the Pune-Mumbai expressway saw as many as 28 road accident deaths last year, up from 22 in 2021.
A review of accident data along this stretch, which is monitored by the Pune unit of the Highway Safety Patrol, showed there were 26 fatalities in 2020 and 37 in 2019, before the Covid-19 curbs on travel were enforced.
Officials with the HSP said most of last year’s 28 deaths – from 23 crashes – were the result of over-speeding and human error. Lata Phad, superintendent of police with the HSP’s Pune unit, said, “Nearly 90% of the accidents in which there were fatalities involved light motor vehicles ramming into heavy vehicles that were either stationary or moving in front of them.”
Phad said that the Pune corridor of the nearly 100-km-long expressway – between Lonavla and Kiwale – sees the maximum number of crashes. “Motorists tend to pick up speed after crossing the Khandala ghat section and, while doing so, ram into heavy vehicles moving in front of them,” she observed.
Phad also said a high number of crashes tend to occur in November and December. “This is mostly because of the high number of people heading out during the holidays to spots in Lonavala, Khandala and Mahabaleshwar. Some of these motorists tend to speed, which often results in fatal crashes,” she said.
Officials with the highway patrol said they are now working on improving their response time to emergencies. “Right now, an HSP team can reach an accident spot along the expressway within 15 minutes. We’re trying to bring that down to 10 minutes by coordinating with different agencies. A shorter response time can save more lives,” Phad said.
Besides speeding, illegal halting too has emerged to become a serious problem along the expressway.
Last year, fine collection between January and August, for halting, had touched a whopping Rs 21,60,000, HSP data showed.
“People mostly stop near small waterfalls to take selfies or get drenched. These are located especially at Pavana, Kamshet, Lonavala-Khandala and more. People halt vehicles on shoulder lanes, which is not allowed. There are notice boards along the route stating this,” a senior official had said at the time.