CHENNAI: Remote controlled drones flying above and having a camera: this seems to be the innovative solution that an expert committee of the Union Transport Ministry has recently suggested to nab those driving rashly down national highways.
While the statistics reiterated repeatedly that over-speeding on highways was snuffing out many lives, it had always been a difficult task for police to identify the rash drivers. The deserted stretches and sheer length of highways had made it difficult for the police to monitor the rash drivers effectively.
But the recommendation of a expert committee, appointed by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways last year, if implemented, could be a game changer for the police to identify rash drivers and nab them quickly. “Drones have a large utility value to the extent they are now even being used for film shooting as well. It is certainly worth trying them out for monitoring our highways,” a senior officer said. Often equated with having an ‘eye in the sky’, drones are equipped with very high resolution cameras that can narrow down its vision to micro level. Until now the use of drones by countries, notably the US, largely involves covert defence operations or for surveillance.
Realizing its immense potential, the expert committee in its report has suggested to the Ministry to consider using drone technology. The committee noted that drones could be used for surveillance of highways where there was an increasing number of accidents and fatalities.
Last year, it was reported that the Spanish highways department was working with a private firm to develop a drone to monitor traffic on public highways. Several States in the US, including Georgia have in the past commissioned studies to examine the possibility of using drones to monitor road traffic.
Projected to be an additional tool in traffic enforcement along with CCTV cameras, experts are however divided on the impact drones will have in reducing accidents. Speaking to Express, a State highways department official said that while the use of drones might sound fancy, it would possibly have no impact whatsoever. Questioning its operational viability, the official said that instead a network of CCTV cameras along the highways should be strengthened. He stated that drones could not possibly patrol hundreds of km of the country’s highways.
- Plantations with thick inflexible trunks shouldn’t be allowed in the median or anywhere near the carriageway
- At every median break for a right turn or a U turn, an extra waiting lane of adequate length must be provided to keep obstruction-free the fast right lane in the carriageway
- In ghat sections (hilly roads) it is advisable to provide an extra lane for the climbing side of the carriageway where the traffic is heavy
- Less cluttered and more prominent signage and information boards
- Every hard object in the median or by the roadside must be provided with impact attenuators or crash barrier
- Liquor shops along the highways should be discouraged
■ According to the Union Government statistics submitted to the Rajya Sabha recently, 1,46,133 people were killed in road accidents across the country in 2015
■ Leading the chart is Tamil Nadu with 69,059 accidents
■ State’s dubious distinction saw 79,746 getting injured in road accidents. The death rate in the mishaps too was high, with 15,000 persons dying last year