Designed to kill
You may hear the term black spots in relation to an accident. But what are these black spots? They are some specific locations where multiple accidents have taken place. Often accidents in India are attributed to the negligence of the driver alone. But if a high number of accidents have taken place, the causes could be multiple - it could range from a sharp drop or corner on a straight road, so oncoming traffic is concealed, poor or concealed warning signs at cross-roads or a hidden junction on a fast road. It has to do with poor road design, bad road engineering and management.
According to the data of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), there are 325 black spots across the country. But Rohit Baluja, who runs the Institute of Road Traffic Education, found more than 500 black spots in a 160 km radius. Take for example, the Hero Honda Chowk in Gurgaon. The expressway has been made by cutting the town across in the middle. As a result, the industrial zones and residential areas have been separated and this makes it essential for people to cross over. In spite of monthly fatalities, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has refused to provide the public with any provision of a foot-over-bridge or subway to prevent recurring accidents, saying it does not fall under its purview.
Another dangerous black spot is Khambatki Ghat on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. There is a steep 'S' shaped curve which is deceptive. As a result, vehicles, especially overloaded trucks often topple on the side, leading to deaths and injuries. It is a basic flaw in road engineering. According to journalist Murad Patel, over 2000 accidents have taken place in a span of the last five years. In spite of over 33% of accidents occuring due to faulty roads, not a single case has been filed against the road authorities. Why does the government not take any action? Journalist Vinita Deshmukh says, "Once the the government gets its kickbacks and commission, it does not care! Unless you shame the government officials and the contractors, nothing is going to change. It will remain commerce over human life."