New Delhi: New expressways that are primarily built to cut travel time and help boost trade between major cities and their satellite towns, also give a license to speed. But as the age old saying goes—speed thrills but it also kills.
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The accident took place on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. The 28-kilometer state of the art high-speed corridor has cut travel time between Delhi and Gurgaon to 17 minutes from 1 hour. But in just 12 months there have been 20,000 traffic violations and 40 fatal accidents, one-third of which were caused due to pedestrians.
“When we made this big highway, there were villages along it. The villagers had to cross but there is no place for them to do so,” says Rohit Baluja, the president of the Indian Road Traffic Education.
Nine-year-old Adish Bhardwaj has to cross the expressway everyday to attend school. Along the 28 km stretch, there are just two subways and one foot over bridge. Adish’s mother Madhu Bhardwaj says “We are scared to cross the expressway, that’s why we cross after making a big group.”
Many villagers have lost their lives while crossing expressways that cut through the village. “Accidents happen and people get killed almost every second day. Three-four people from our own village get killed every month but there is no one to hear our plea, ” says Ashok Pardhan the Sarpanch of Nahrapur, a village on the edge of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway.
With not many designated places to cross the expressway safely many pedestrians jaywalk. “I think there has to be some kind of penal action on the jaywalkers,” says Suvashish Chaudhary the Deputy Commissioner of Police for Traffic in New Delhi.
According to World Road Statistics, an agency that provides the only global compilation of road and vehicle statistics for 185 countries, more than 95,000 people were killed in road accidents in India, in 2007 with Delhi contributing 2,169 deaths to the toll. This is second only to China in the number of deaths on road.
Experts say lack of good traffic engineering, that involves safe and efficient techniques to construct roads and manage traffic, is one of the main reasons for an increase in the number of road accidents.