Palm Beach Road: Accidents up, but checks on speeding ineffective
Most accidents in the night; single speed gun doesn’t work well in insufficient light; police say not enough manpower
Prashant Rangnekar

Mumbai, May 6: * In January, a police van crushed three people while they were taking a morning walk on Palm Beach Road
* Dyaneshwar Baban Gawde (32) was killed in a hit-and-run incident while he was taking a morning walk. The police are yet to nab the culprit
* In May, Arun Chavan (38) was seriously injured when a speeding truck rammed his Honda City while he was driving back from Vashi to Nerul
* A day later, a speeding truck lost control and fell into a pit near the Nerul end of Palm Beach Road, injuring the driver

The 9-km Palm Beach Road, stretching from Vashi to Belapur, is a favourite with pedestrians. Along the sea, it looks good. The road is also a favourite with drivers. But that’s where the problem lies — it’s turned into a speed zone and the number of accidents is going up. Especially in the night.

In an attempt to keep a check on speeding vehicles, the Navi Mumbai Traffic Police have started using a speed gun, which can assess the speed of a passing vehicle from a particular distance. But the speed gun has had little effect. “The problem with the speed gun is that it is not effective during the night,” says Dr Dyaneshwar Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, Thane Traffic.

Another traffic policeman adds: “Dim lighting affects the speed gun.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Nandkumar Chougle, on the other hand, says: “Speed guns do work in the night. But lack of manpower is a major hindrance for us. While conducting a check on the Palm Beach Road, we book more than 80 cases and when we have the exercise near the Expressway, we have more than 150 cases on our hands.”

But he adds that even in cases of overspeeding, “the fine levied is really low—Rs 200”, and that hardly acts as a deterrent to speeding drivers.

“We exceed the speed limit while driving at night, and that’s the time when most accidents occur,” says Sujit Anand (22), a Belapur resident.

Adds Mitesh T (22), a resident of Vashi who often crosses the speed limit while riding his bike, “If the speed limit is 60 kmph, we tend to drive at 80 kmph, though unknowingly. But the accidents which take place, especially during the night, are really bad.”

The traffic police has also started conducting sudden checks on these roads, to keep an eye on errant drivers. Again, most of these checks are conducted in the day, whereas most cases of speeding and fatal accidents occur late in the night or early in the morning.

Motorists should keep the pedestrians in mind while driving and they should not exceed the prescribed speed limit,” said Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Ramrao Wagh. “We do not have enough manpower to keep our men posted 24x7 on Palm Beach Road.”

In the neighbouring township of Thane, the traffic police don’t even have speed guns. “There are many accident-prone areas in Thane and we do need speed guns,” says DCP (Traffic) Dr Dyaneshwar Chavan. “The Thane Municipal Corporation has assured us that they will provide speed guns soon,” he added.