Why Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway, vehicles turn into weapons for ‘murder’
They are caused by motorists who blot out everything else.
When an issue turns into a political tool, all focus is on using it as a weapon to raise the heat on the opponents. While at it, the real problems linked to that issue are ignored. They fester and continue to cause damage. This is the story of the 119 km Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway.
While the expressway is turned into a weapon by the political parties to put each other down, the real reasons behind the high number of accidents, deaths and injuries on that road remain ignored. They are a lack of basic driving skills among the drivers; care-a-hoot attitude of motorists about rules pertaining to safe driving; daredevil approach to driving; lack of empathy towards other motorists/people on the road; and the main being regional transport offices (RTOs) granting driving licences to the undeserving candidates without thinking about its deadly consequences.
Home Minister G Parameshwara on July 10 said since March 2023 – when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the expressway – at least 308 accidents have taken place on this 10-lane road which stipulates a speed limit of 100 Km/hour. These have caused 100 deaths and 335 injuries, he said, attributing it to lack of scientific planning, no proper signage for safe driving, and a lack of enforcement to restrict drivers within the speed limit.
Soon after the prime minister inaugurated the expressway and dedicated it to the nation on March 12, heavy rains saw a part of the newly-laid road collapsing, besides parts of the road getting flooded. Questions were raised about the road design and safety. Also questioned was the inauguration before the Rs 8,408 crore project was diligently completed. Allegations flew over the then BJP-ruled government inviting the prime minister to inaugurate the expressway to score political points ahead of the May 10-scheduled assembly polls.
Other issues – like high toll levied ahead of the project being ready; access to locals and farmers on either sides of the road; proper exit and entry roads to and from locations adjoining the expressway; woes of already established businesses losing customers due to the new expressway, among others – added doses of fuel to the political bonfire made out of the project.
It won’t be wrong to say that the inauguration of the project by the prime minister before its completion backfired on the BJP, while the then opposition, led by Congress, grabbed it with both hands to extract maximum benefit out of it. It also may not be wrong to say that it did play its part in turning the tide against the BJP at the polls, that too in a region that has been its Achilles’ heel.
Now, a new Congress-ruled government is in place. It’s time to focus on the real issue without skirting it. Roads are for motorists to drive safely. But a strange observation in our country is that improvement of road infrastructure is directly proportional to the accident rates. Better the roads, higher the accidents. Wide, well-tarred or white-topped roads lure many motorists – almost to the point of seduction – to step on the accelerator, and zoom. Somewhere in the mind, the motorist and the vehicle (more sophisticated and powerful these days) become one. No one else exists. Nothing else exists – not even the brake and the clutch, just the accelerator. And accidents happen.
Actually, most accidents do not happen. They are caused by motorists who blot out everything else. A vehicle in the hands of a motorist is a potential murder weapon when the driver thinks only about his vehicle and the road to break speed records. Boasts about achieving this are commonly heard.
It’s the attitude of the drivers that is the real problem causing accidents, not the lack of scientific planning or signage. Scientific road planning and signage are necessary, and so is stringent enforcement. It is high time that the government took note of this...and acted stringently!
Deputy Resident Editor, Karnataka