Mumbai Pune Expressway safety issues
I took a few pictures of the Mumbai Pune expressway the other day which I wanted to share. This is one of the most beautiful roads in India. It is a three lane expressway (plus shoulder) just on one side. In other words, it is India’s first six-lane concrete, high-speed tolled expressway. Only four wheeler vehicles are allowed here. Agricultural tractors are not allowed, but semi-trailer rigs are. The expressway is almost a hundred kms long and was opened to traffic in the year 2000, but was completed only in 2002. It has dramatically improved the journey from Mumbai to Pune. Now one can easily make it in three and a half hours.
Strangely, the old journey (which I have made since I was a kid) on the narrow winding two way roads took the same time then as it does now because the traffic at the time was not much! It was only in the nineties that the traffic on the Mumbai Pune route increased to such an extent that the journey became intolerable. One small accident could create hold-ups of six to eight hours. There have been instances of people being stuck the whole night on the old road! People had started to prefer the train journey…but now the trains are taking the back seat.
People don’t follow traffic rules
The speed limit on this road is about 80 kms per hour but most people break this. Cars routinely travel at 100-140 kms per hour. So I really doubt that this road is as safe as it is touted to be. Also, the old habits of weaving in and out and crossing lanes remain! People are in such a darned hurry, that if there is a line at the toll, they try to squeeze past you and this causes more a very sticky situation. As for those manning the toll, they are not bothered.
Although the right lane is meant for overtaking, cars and trucks (not allowed on this lane at all) love to stick to it, forcing others to overtake from the left. The Volvo buses which are a frequent sight on this highway invariably break all speed limits and traffic rules.
So where are the cops? If you are lucky (or unlucky?) you might spot them at a distance, well in time to reduce your speed as you cruise past them!
Unpleasant statistics and experiences on the expressway
In 2006, 62 people were killed on the Mumbai Pune expressway and sadly, one of these people was my brother’s friend’s wife. My brother’s friend (in a Maruti car) was driving too fast and he lost control and hit a pole on the left side.
And one of our nightmarish experiences was when an old truck to the right of us (traveling on the right lane where it was not supposed to be) suddenly veered to the right, straight into the wide divider, jumped over it, crossed over to the other side, went across the road (thankfully no vehicles were coming from that side) and hit a tree on the other side of the road! Maybe the driver was drunk. We didn’t wait to find out.
Inspite of this, the Mumbai Pune Expressway remains a wonderful road to on travel on. One has to throw off a false sense of security one gets on this road however. True, its a beautiful drive with breathtaking scenery along the western ghats, and one can reach Pune in three flat, but as long as there are stupid and dangerous drivers along this road who want to make it in two hours….we all have to be extra careful. People actually boast about how they drive from Mumbai to Pune in two hours!
The picture below is of one of the many tunnels that carve their way through the mountains but as photography is not allowed, I am showing a blurred version.
Is there crime on the Expressway?
No, although there were some incidents when it first started. There used to long stretches which were deserted but today there are no deserted stretches. Also, the police claim that the gangs that operated here are behind bars.
Emergency helplines (9822498224) specifically meant for this expressway and plus there are emergency phones installed every half a kilometre. So help arrives in a jiffy. Nothing to fear really!
In fact once we did have a problem with the car and we were about two kms from the expressway. Some construction workers were very helpful and told us that a garage was a kilometre ahead. The guys were so sweet that they helped us push the car to the side and I remained there while my husband took a rickshaw to the garage and got a tow van. I felt very safe throughout. That was when we realised that the Expressway Help numbers only help you if you are on the Expressway! We called and they said sorry, you aren’t yet on the expressway so fend for yourself!
The good news is that the expressway might be extended right up to Mumbai (right now it is only from Panvel) and one has to go through an hour or less of traffic before one reaches it. But inspite of this, one can make it to Pune in three and a half hours at the most. On the Pune side the expressway starts almost immediately after the city ends.
Related Reading: What is the solution to India’s high accident rate?
Jail works as a deterrent to stop traffic offenders
How much blood alcohol are you allowed in different countries of the world? A comparison
Isn’t helping accident victims our duty as citizens?
Drunk Driving is a major cause of road accidents in India
Shortage of policemen in India – a comparison with the world
Indore has the coolest and the best city bus service