Mangaluru : Upgrading highways top the agenda of governments at the Centre and states. Yet safety seems to take a backseat on these roads -Experts say highway deaths continue unabated because the so-called ‘state-of-the-art roads’ allow motorists to zoom at roaring speed but doesn’t guarantee their safety. Speeding vehicles treat pedestrians as persona non grata. Service roads are either non-existent or designed such that they are mere roadblocks along the high-speed corridors.
Driving after dusk is a nightmare mainly on the highway from Kankanady Pumpwell junction towards Nanthoor, Padua/Kadri park/KPT and further stretch of the road.Many stretches have high embankments without wide enough shoulders or protective guardrails. There are stretches where the two lanes in one direction are at a much higher level than the ones on the other direction. They are like death traps.
While traffic snarls are common on highways, motorists hitting the service roads are often caught unawares by missing stretches. With hardly any steps taken to improve local road network along expressways, the concept of high-speed corridors has taken a beating. Service roads get choked with vehicles and even the tail-end spills over to the main carriageway. Unscientific medians make for killer highways -Stretches on state and national highways pose imminent danger for buses, especially Volvos, speeding at 120-150 km per hour. Unscientific road dividers and lack of proper lighting are increasingly proving fatal.
Some of the most important stretches on highways are without reflectors or delineators. “The road suddenly shrinks towards the left, to its original width, immediately after a crossing. One gets to notice it only at the eleventh hour. This is dangerous even for people driving at a slow speed. Low concrete slabs emerge out of nowhere, sporting unscientific signage to warn unsuspecting motorists. Badly designed road dividers are turning out to be silent killers. Karnataka is a unique example where dividers are designed in the most unscientific way. Dividers are designed to make roads comfortable for less than 1% motorists who may take a right turn or a U-turn. But little thought goes into how they could become a danger for the remaining 99% driving straight.
Added to all these, allowing motorists to make a U or Right turn on a busy highway is very dangerous- and one such example I noted was near Karnataka Polytechnic junction- during the peak/rush hours traffic coming from Bejai side and going towards Bondel side have to take a diversion near the KPT junction, since the road is barricaded. This is done to avoid traffic congestion at that junction-but now the worst part is that when they did this diversion, the highway leading towards AJ Shetty Hospital is congested, due to traffic making a U-turn. This is a very dumb idea by the traffic department to allow motorists to make U or right turn on a busy national highway. Not only there could be serious accidents soon, but this idea is creating a traffic jam.
Another spot, where U or right turn is allowed on Highway is opposite to Padua High school- the highway authorities should have planned on a extra lane so that traffic could easily make U or right turn without obstructing the moving traffic going straight on the highway. The idea of allowing U or Right turn on a highway is surely a safety hazard, and the concerned traffic authorities should look into it and change the present system, which is creating more hassles and inconveniences to the motorists than it was before. Driving or riding around KPT junction is a nightmare!