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AN OPEN LETTER TO HON.

NARENDRA MODI REGARDING


KILLER TRAFFIC ON INDIAN ROADS
21 April 2016
Honourable Shri Narendra Modi (Personal Attention)
Prime Minister of India
7 Race Course Road
New Delhi 110 003
Honourable Prime Minister:
You must be aware that Indian roads have the highest road fatalities in the world.
During 2015, there were 1.5 lakh road deaths, which is about 400 deaths a day or one
death every 3.6 minutes. According to statistics on road accidents, almost one-third of
the total fatalities were reported on national highways. This simply is not acceptable.
I am suggesting a very simple, common sense solution which will go a long way to
tame the killer traffic on our multilane highways. If you are really serious, the PMO
can issue the order today; it does not require any feedback from bureaucrats or
technocrats or any revision to the current Road Safety Act.

Background: Lack of Driving Lane Discipline and Enforcement


On multilane highways such as National Highway 8 (Jaipur-Ajmer Road with 6
lanes), I had challenged the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) through
RTI as to why as a car driver I should pay the toll tax when there is no right-of-way
for me on any of the three lanes in either direction. All trucks/buses are plying in the
central lane and overtake each other in the right lane thus blocking my way
completely because legally I cannot overtake them from the left lane, and it is also
dangerous. See the typical situation in Photograph 1. Therefore, I have to drive in a
zigzag, illegal fashion like a stunt driver around these hurdles called trucks. This
leads to serious accidents.

Photograph 1. Heavy vehicles plying in the middle and right lanes 6-lane NH 8

On my RTI appeal, the Central Information Commission (CIC) of India gave a ruling
in my favour despite the presence of NHAI General Managers at the hearing. You can
see the CIC judgment dated 15 April 2009 at the following link:
http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1942805/
The CIC rightly directed the NHAI to enforce the driving lane discipline on this
highway within 3 months. Although more than 7 years have passed, NHAI still has to
act. Sab chalta hai. We have similar situation on our 4-lane highways like NH 11
Jaipur- Agra Road where the trucks are plying on the right lane rather than in the left
lane, forcing cars to overtake illegally from the left lane which is also dangerous
(Photograph 2).

Photograph 2. Heavy vehicles plying in the right lane of 4-lane highway


Mr. Prime Minister, we simply have jungle raj in terms of lane use on our national
highways which carry about 40% of total traffic in India. If you can enforce the
driving lane discipline on our multilane highways, it will significantly reduce injuries
and deaths.
Solution Erection of Simple, Proper-Lane-Use Signs every 5 KM
Right now we do not have proper, simple traffic signs to educate the motoring public
especially the truck drivers. Either there are no signs or signs showing speed as the
criteria (such as slow traffic keep left) which is confusing because the truckers/buses
believe their speed in not slow.
You talk to 10 people in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) or
the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI); you will get 10 different answers to
the proper lane use. I have done it. There is total confusion. What do we expect from
the State Police who is supposed to implement the traffic rules?

The simple solution to this problem is to put simple traffic signs every 5 km on
multilane national highways showing a truck in the left lane and car in the right
lane. That's the answer. The PMO has to put its foot down to get these signs erected
by NHAI on an urgent basis. Time is of essence because lives are being lost every
single day. Two examples of traffic signs prepared by my artist niece, Damini Rathore
for 4-lane and 6-lane highway are shown in Figures 1 and 2. I would like to know:
what is the problem in doing so. If there is any problem what is the alternate?

Figure 1. Road sign for 4-lane highway

Figure 2. Road sign for 6-lane highway


Mr. Prime Minister, only you can get this humble suggestion implemented in India.
Please ask PMO to issue the order to NHAI today. It is just common sense. Again,
there is no need to revise the Road Safety Act. You are the last hope to tame the
killer traffic on our multilane highways!
Yours faithfully,
Prof. Prithvi Singh Kandhal
Karanpura House, 50 Raj Bhawan Rd.

Civil Lines, Jaipur 302 006


pkandhal@gmail.com
American roads are good not because America is rich, but America is rich
because American roads are good.
- John F. Kennedy
Those who resist change will become irrelevant in the 21st Century.
Narendra Modi

ABOUT THE WRITER


Prof. Prithvi Singh Kandhal is Associate Director Emeritus of the National Center for
Asphalt Technology (NCAT) based at Auburn University, Alabama, U.S.A. NCAT is
the largest asphalt (bitumen) road technology center in the world. Prior to joining
NCAT in 1988, Prof. Kandhal served as Chief Asphalt Road Engineer of the
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for 17 years.
He has served as President, International Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists
(with members from all continents of the world); Chairman, American Society for
Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Committee on Road Paving Standards;
and Chairman, US Transportation Research Board Committee on Asphalt Roads.
Recently, he has developed many new standards for the Indian Roads Congress.
In August 2011, Prof. Kandhal was inducted on the Wall of Honour established at
the largest asphalt road research center in the United States. In April 2012, he
received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Asphalt Road Technology from the
International Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists during their annual
banquet held in Austin, Texas, USA.