The Mumbai-Pune Expressway has fast gathered the reputation of being one of the most dangerous roads to travel on in the state. There are near countless fatalities that emerge as a result of vehicular accidents on the expressway paving the path for the Maharashtra government to take a renewed effort into remedying the situation. For the first time in the history of Indian traffic, drones were used to monitor vehicular traffic along with Pune-Mumbai Expressway. "After receiving directives from the Maharashtra government, we conducted the demonstration for the first time and used two drones in ghat section (between Lonavala exit and Khalapur toll plaza) to monitor vehicular traffic on both the sides," said Amol Tambe, Superintendent of Police (Highways), Pune Region. It is notable to mention that 15 drivers were found in violation of cutting lanes on the expressway and fined in accordance.
Tambe went on to further explain the how the drones captured the aerial pictures of lane-cutting conducted by these drivers. "They were given a challan either at the Urse toll Plaza or Khalapur toll Plaza." The Superintendent went on to add that the exercise had been conducted between 12 noon and 4 pm, and is likely to be replicated the following day for a succession of days.
The Maharashtra Minister of State for Home (Urban), Deepak Kasarkar, had said earlier this year that the drone program would be implemented across the expressway on a pilot basis, and true to his word, the program has been initiated. The Shiv Sena minister had once infamously termed the Pune-Mumbai Expressway as a death trap, and vowed to improve the safety measures on the road and help reduce the number of casualties that happen there.
"Incidents of road accidents have increased due to the indiscipline of vehicles and their rash driving. We do not have control over rash driving as the length of the expressway is long and there is insufficient police staff for surveillance," Kesarkar had said. He had also said while there is a need to control vehicular traffic, using a CCTV cameras for the purpose has its own limitations and so the idea of using drones was mooted.
However, just as the experiment started, a State Transport Shivneri Volvo bus and a truck collided near Talegaon toll centre early on Sunday, injuring two persons, who were shifted to a hospital at Nigdi. Last month, six students died after their car rammed into a divider near Kamshet tunnel. On July 17, three businessmen returning to Mumbai from Pune were killed near the same spot after their car also hit a divider. In June, 17 persons were killed on the spot and over 35 were injured when a luxury bus hit two cars and crashed into a 20-foot ditch.
The above serves as validation for the Maharashtra government's conviction into thinking that an eye in the sky is better than several feet on the ground. If implemented successfully, this initiative will go a long way in improving the safety standards for drivers on the road.