Expressway Deaths: RTO problem, not the Road
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Expressway Deaths: RTO problem, not the Road

June 10, 2023

Last year, Zoomcar, India’s biggest self-drive rental car company, surveyed 22 cities using its proprietary drive scoring system and declared Mysuru had the worst drivers in the country! 

Based on yesterday’s SOM report, the survey’s assessment seems right. The report stated that in just five months of the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway opening, there have been 570 accidents where 55 people have died, 52 were seriously injured, 187 suffered fractures and 279 sustained minor injuries! It’s not the faulty road; it’s an issue of faulty drivers.

The problem of bad drivers begins at the RTO level. In 2017, ‘Save a Life Foundation,’ a well-respected NGO committed to improving road safety, surveyed ten major cities in India. They wanted to know how many people got their driver’s licence (DL) without a driving test.

 What is the result of the survey? 59 percent. Yes, almost 60 percent of the drivers in our country’s major cities have got a driver’s licence without a proper driving test! Is it any surprise, then, that most of us are unsafe drivers?

 There is a direct correlation between corruption at RTOs in issuing driver’s licences and bad drivers leading to death on Indian roads. It has also become a sociological problem as it introduces young minds to bribing their way to success. When a 16-year-old gets his learner’s licence (LLR), in most cases, he also earns a learner’s licence on how to bribe.

 This driver’s licence corruption, which has led to an increased number of bad drivers and, in turn, deaths on Indian roads, prompted Harvard Business School to do a study titled ‘Obtaining a Driver’s Licence in India: An experimental approach to studying corruption.’ One of the conclusions was that 62 percent of Indian drivers were unqualified to drive when they obtained a licence!

 Mysuru is growing, and it’s time to prepare, not just the roads but also its drivers. First, the RTO needs to conduct two tests — one for city driving and one for highway driving. Considering there have been so many deaths on the Expressway to Bengaluru, it is crucial.

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 Most drivers in India are unaware of many aspects of driving, such as ‘blind spots’ and lane discipline. Mysuru drivers must learn lane discipline — Stick to your side and not slither on the road like a snake from one side of the road to another. When you have no lane discipline, no matter how big a road you are given, it will never be enough.

 That said, there are a few issues with the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway, such as the Government’s inability to maintain impenetrable side walls, have continuous service lanes to park vehicles that have broken, and the failure to ban two-wheelers and autorickshaws which hinder lane discipline.

 There is also the issue of patrolling and keeping the Expressway clear at all times. Already we see coconut sellers on the Expressway, people stopping on the outer lane to take pictures, and young boys doing motorcycle stunts. There is no Police patrolling to stop these dangerous activities. 

I was recently in Sri Lanka. They, too, have an Expressway connecting Colombo and a city called Galle. On this Expressway, no autorickshaws and motorcycles are allowed. All cars and buses must maintain a speed limit of 100 km per hour, plus or minus 15 km. Drivers are fined if they go above and also below this speed range.  

They also have a separate department in the Police force to handle the Expressway issues. This includes an Accident Response Team. We are yet to put such systems in place. But that doesn’t mean the road is faulty; our drivers are not well-trained to drive on an Expressway, and that’s the issue.

The Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway was designed for an average speed of about 100 kilometres per hour, and the width of each lane was designed for that speed, but none of the cars follow that. Worse, we lack lane discipline, a big problem on an Expressway where vehicles move at high speeds.

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 As per the Report on Road Accidents in India 2019, over 24,431 road accidents occurred due to lack of lane discipline, and over 9,201 deaths happened due to overtaking and when changing lanes. We Mysureans should be aware of this as we will drive a lot on the new                                          Expressway and at high speeds where lane discipline becomes crucial.

We have a culture that has complete disregard for our safety and others, too — from getting up before a flight comes to a complete halt to hopping onto a moving train; from driving up a one-way street to driving between lanes on the Expressway; from making kids pop their heads out of the sunroof to not wearing seatbelts, we never pay attention to safety.

Senior Police Officer and now CBI Director Praveen Sood said, “What is in the public interest may not always be what the public is interested in.” He is right. Here is an example. Seat belts are compulsory, and new cars keep ‘beeping’ if you are not wearing your seat belt to remind you to wear it for your own safety.

But the unwillingness of drivers and co-passengers to wear seat belts has given rise to a new business opportunity — the buckle market. Shops are now selling just the buckle, which is ‘clicked’ in to shut the beep up!

It is said to drive on Indian roads, you need ‘Good Horn, Good Brakes and Good Luck.’ This is true, but for now, as accidents and deaths rise on the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway, the need of the hour is a better driver’s test and a non-corrupt licence-issuing system, else the Expressway will be an Expressway to go straight to heaven, hell or worse… a greedy hospital.

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11 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Expressway Deaths: RTO problem, not the Road”

  1. Sanjay Kini says:

    A few weeks back when I had written about Chandigarh saving 20 crore a year by introducing 100 electric buses , and another. about First Class Buses with Business class seats and first class sleeper buses with 18 suites , a fellow commenter said the rich love their German made cars and yes they do and do they know that speed limit on expressway is 100km per hour but they push the pedal to go at speeds of 140kmph in their expensive cars and such over speeding leads to crash.Why do they do it , just go to YouTube and if you search for the expressway videos you will see a reputed news company having video of Bengaluru to Mysuru in 75 minutes.Now our hero’s after seeing the video have one aim to beat the 75 minutes mark and then to tell to their friends how quickly they made it to mysuru, not realising that they have broken the rules by over speeding and it takes good 2hours and 15minutes between the two cities when a famous YouTuber who drove at optimum speed took so much time to reach mysuru..we urgently need CCTV camera and speed radar sign which displays a message to slowdown installed for every 500mts on the expressway. And finally under the “National Clean Air Initiative” thane transport administration got funds to buy 123 electric city buses.Requesting Mr.Simha to help get these funds from Central Government under “National Clean Air Initiative” to get 150 Electric City buses for Mysuru so that a few cars owners who believe in sustainable lifestyle might take the electric bus inside the city towards a Clean and Green Mysuru.

  2. Shashi Kumar says:

    Not sure if ban on two-wheelers is possible because there is no alternative road. The new expressway is not a completely greenfield expressway. It has been constructed along the old existing highway. Only at important towns new by-passes have been created. The service road is not continuous. At many places it ends abruptly. So there is no option but to drive on main carriage way. Also, driving on service roads at high speed is dangerous as vehicles would be coming from both direction. The condition of service road has already deteriorated at many places.

  3. SS says:

    I think the author is right to the point. When you see ignorant drivers driving on the opposite side of the road and underage kids driving all around, what can be expected?
    There should be a national UPSC exam that everyone needs to pass before taking the state level driving tests. The speeds and vehicles on the roads are increasing and so should the driving skills and awareness.

  4. Purushothaman says:

    The author is rightly said the issues. Added to that, what I noticed recently while travelling from bangalore to Mysore express way recently, and my first experience, many of the locations the side fencing is either damaged or missing, specially close to road side tender coconut & tea vendors area, and also seen the light vehicle drivers are parking for a while by the side of main carriage and further noticed the two wheelers and slow moving vehicles are on the first track. All due to lack of awareness on usage of express ways. Two wheelers and slow moving vehicles should compulsory shift to service road, and maintain the side walls intact is the need of the hour.

  5. Tanoj V says:

    Author is very much right on his views. Over speeding and no discipline is the main cause of accidents. We even witness small capacity veh like maruti 800 like veh are compete with big SUVs!! More over out state veh who r not aware of local road conditions are another threat. Adding to it , unscientific exit points. NHAI must look into and curb this primary facts..

  6. Namboodiripad says:

    “The report stated that in just five months of the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway opening, there have been 570 accidents where 55 people have died, 52 were seriously injured, 187 suffered fractures and 279 sustained minor injuries! It’s not the faulty road; it’s an issue of faulty drivers”
    “This driver’s licence corruption, which has led to an increased number of bad drivers and, in turn, deaths on Indian roads, prompted Harvard Business School to do a study titled ‘Obtaining a Driver’s Licence in India: An experimental approach to studying corruption.’ One of the conclusions was that 62 percent of Indian drivers were unqualified to drive when they obtained a licence!”
    Hello Vikram
    There are thousands of doctors in Mysore, hundreds of thiusands of them in the rest of India. Yes, many of them have higher degrees like MD and MS,all legitimate degrees, but earned throught shelling out hundreds of Lakhs of Rupees right from their entrance to mredical colleges, not on merit, but on reservation quotas, in most cases
    handing out lsakhs of Rupees to get places, anf then passing their exams through further spending of lakhs of Rupees.
    Thus qualified, these doctors kill more patirents through their sheer negligence and in most cases through lack of knowledge. They all have legitimate medical qualifivations at the specialist level.
    Proper driver training and getting the driver’s licence do not mean, one can transform a basically dishonest and reckless Indians-most Indians are, into law-abiding amnd and upright Indians who care for fellow humans.
    This country is morally bankrupt and materially corrupt, and that cannot be fixed.

  7. Muralisk says:

    The fundamental point is “no lane discipline” whether they are driving the cheapest car or the costliest car. For some strange reason, they always drive on lane separator and that too when the road is empty.

  8. ram says:

    There was a hope that this infrastructure will make way for development in Mysore and many Technology Companies would set up offices taking away some load from Bangalore. There was also a possibility of frequent commutes to Mysore. We now realize that only ONE new lane has been added to the earlier four-lane main carriageway and is bounded by box drains at the edge, the overall lane width is also slightly reduced. The highway has become accident-prone and has not many safety elements, e.g. Barriers to vehicles from crossing over to the other side, preventing overspeeding, lane discipline, etc. It’s not worth risking life for frequent travel from Bangalore to Mysore. However, there is a positive impact on some areas closer to Bangalore like Ramanagara and Bidadi which have become more attractive due to the expressway travel and Metro connectivity.

    Of course, it’s a great project and I have traveled on the electric bus it’s a great new experience. Travel to Bandipur, Nagarhole, and Coorg has become easy.

  9. citizenvoter says:

    I don’t know why this person worries about accident. India has huge population, let some of it be reduced this way. Moreover it is very good cleansing system of arrogant people from the planet.

  10. Never Presto Questo says:

    Still, you have not gone back to school, to learn proper English usage!
    in your sentence,:”I don’t know why this person worries about accident”, who is that person you refer to?
    It is : “India has a huge population”
    Hey, dim witted idiot, this is a cleaning system of arrogant people like you in India, not from the entire planet, as you reckless cretins cause these accidents, killing yourselves and others-all in this area of Mysore-Bangalore Expressway.

  11. Marigowda Ramanna says:

    Hare ram!!
    When a country like India is breeding like rats and massuvely increasing its population, expressways where stupid Indians afflected by the car culture, treat the expressways as their property where they can break rules, are not the answer.
    India wants to ape the US, forgetting that their interstate highways were built by Eisenhower in 1950s, to move troops in a hurry. Since, then Americans are stuck with the car culture. When they come to Europe where cities and countries are connected by high speed rail links, they stare in wonderment, and imagine, why they missed the high speed rail links.
    Mysore-Bangalore can be best connected, can become a commuting belt, if non-stop express trains are run at certain hours of the day. Instead of constructing this expressway, which has become a dump of cars , crawling and meeting with frequent accidents, and in the end , the journey time will only increase, the state and central governments must hacve planned together to multiply the rail tracks- just adding 2 more parallel tracks between Mysore and Bangalore-reserving those 2 tracks for the non-stop express trains between the 2 cities, in which the daily commuters are given the priority.


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