40% of highway accidents occur due to drivers dozing off

Published: July 30, 2019 1:39:38 AM

Exhausted drivers who doze off at the wheel are responsible for about 40% of road accidents, says a study by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) on the 300-km Agra-Lucknow Expressway.

As per road safety experts’ recommendations, drivers should not drive continuously for more than three hours without a break of 15 to 30 minutes.

By Rahul Chhabra

Exhausted drivers who doze off at the wheel are responsible for about 40% of road accidents, says a study by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) on the 300-km Agra-Lucknow Expressway. The finding rings the alarm bell on how Indian highway motorists ignore the importance of taking adequate rest and end up endangering lives.

In a country where road accidents claim nearly three lives every minute, the report related to sleepy drivers has underlined the need for educating highway motorists about the importance of taking frequent breaks and proper sleep for safety.

Head of CRRI’s traffic engineering and safety division Subhash Chand Kaushal said, “While analysing the reasons behind accidents on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, we found that 40% of the incidents can be attributed to drivers dozing off at the wheel.”

A bulk of the accidents that we studied took place between midnight and 4 am and in the post-lunch period of between 3 pm and 6 pm,” he added.

Kaushal also called for concerted efforts to augment wayside amenities on highways and using road signs and markings to remind drivers at frequent intervals about the need for taking breaks. He suggested that road signs/banners with messages like ‘Rest a while’ and ‘Don’t try to fight sleep’ can be put up at regular intervals and advisories issued at toll plazas and other wayside amenities for continuously reminding motorists to avoid taking the risk of driving in a drowsy state, spot signs of drowsiness and associated risks, and follow tips to fight them.

As per road safety experts’ recommendations, drivers should not drive continuously for more than three hours without a break of 15 to 30 minutes. In one day, a driver’s total number of hours at the wheel should not exceed eight hours to ensure that he stays alert. However, it is an open secret that most Indian commercial vehicle drivers in the private sector drive more than 10 hours a day.

According to the latest data released by road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, 1,47,913 people were killed in road accidents in 2017, with Uttar Pradesh reporting the maximum number of 20,124 road accident fatalities, followed by Tamil Nadu with 16,157 deaths.

The CRRI experts said apart from sleepy drivers, poor safety infrastructure on highways, faulty design of roads, overloading of vehicles, over speeding and tyre bursts in ill-maintained vehicles that use retreaded tyres are some of the other reasons responsible for fatalities on roads.

Interestingly, the central government is working with the Petroleum Conservation and Research Association on a new proposed tyre code under which tyremakers may be asked to mark rolling resistance (RR) threshold limits on side walls of tyres from January 1, 2022, to help motorists pick tyres that cause less friction, withstand heat on continuous use and are less prone to bursts.

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