Even though India continues to have a high rate of road crashes and resultant fatalities and people injured, there is also positive change in the form of efforts being made to save lives and reduce vehicle accidents. The Old Mumbai-Pune Highway Vision Zero project is one such example.
As per data released for the Old Mumbai-Pune Highway Vision Zero project, a joint initiative of MSRDC, Maharashtra Highway Police, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India and SaveLIFE Foundation, the number of fatalities have seen an overall reduction of 54% since 2018. In 2018, when the project was initiated, the Mumbai-Pune section of NH48 suffered 268 fatalities. As a result of interventions carried out under this project, the number of fatalities reduced to 206 in 2019.
Though in 2020, the actual number of fatalities stand at 79 as per Police records, in order to report the impact of the project, a conservative figure of 123 has been considered on the basis of fatalities in Q1 and Q4 of the year, when Covid-19-related challenges and restrictions were negligible. The extrapolation to 123 fatalities also considers past available trends from Qs 2 and 3 of other years.
Commenting on the work done by MSRDC on the project, Dr Chandrakant Pulkundwar, Joint Managing Director, MSRDC said, “Last year we spearheaded certain key initiatives on NH-48 which have helped us in improving road safety including eradication of the black spot at Anda Point. We now have dedicated patrol vehicles to also ensure strong enforcement to remove/cordon off illegally parked vehicles on the old Mumbai Pune Highway.”
MSRDC has played a very crucial role in implementing various engineering safety measures on NH 48. Over 1,200 engineering related safety improvement measures have been implemented through MSRDC under the project.
Commenting on the progress made on the project, Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay, Additional Director General of Police, Traffic noted, "The Old Mumbai Pune Highway is an important link between Mumbai and Pune and also sees more diverse traffic with a lot of vulnerable road users plying on it . We have therefore allocated additional personnel to strengthen the enforcement and improve safety on the highway."
The project, conceptualised and managed by SaveLIFE Foundation, is supported by Skoda Auto Volkswagen India under its CSR program.
Commenting on the impact of the project, Gurpratap Boparai , Managing Director, Skoda Auto Volkswagen Group in India, said, “Skoda Volkswagen has a long-standing reputation for building vehicles that are reliable, trustworthy and safe. In an effort to further the cause of road safety, we have partnered with the SaveLIFE Foundation on the “Vision Zero” project on the Old Mumbai Pune Highway . We believe this model can work as a template for future road safety programs across the country.”
Commenting on the way forward, Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation stated that, “The success of this project on Old Mumbai Pune Highway is a testament of our partnership with Skoda Volkswagen Auto India, MSRDC and Maharashtra Police. Through this partnership we have been able to successfully showcase the success of the model on National Highways which are in itself an extremely complex layered ecosystem with peri-urban and rural settlements dotted along the whole stretch."