29 January 2020
Bhubaneswar: Death of around eight passengers after a bus skid off a bridge near Taptapani Ghati in Ganjam district in the wee hours of Wednesday has led to many assumptions on the reason behind the mishap.
In an attempt to ascertain a practical cause of the tragedy, OMMCOM NEWS contacted with former member of National Road Safety Council, Syed Maqbool Ali, who while explaining the science behind such accident also threw light on the lackadaisical attitude of stakeholders towards road safety.
Ali said, "The possibility is that there was fog or mist in the area. Normally when heavy vehicles pass on the road, unburnt fuel is emitted from the exhaust system of the vehicle that forms an invisible residue on the road. As drizzling occurs during fog, the residual fuel being lighter than water floats on the road at a height of .5 mm to 1 mm, because of which, the wheel of a vehicle is not in direct contact with the road surface and skidding occurs."
He, however, said that though the residual fuel will lead the vehicle to skid only for one inch, the weight of the vehicle would create momentum and take it to 10 feet if it does not hit any anti-skid surface like gravel. Same would have happened in the case of the bus, he added.
Ali also asserted that the basic thumb rule of driving in 'Ghati' or Valley road is not to use brakes but using the engine or gear. Besides, ascending vehicle has a right of way than the descending vehicles. The driver should also use short burst horn during turnings and music inside the vehicle at that time should be totally prohibited because of which horn of other vehicle will be inaudible.
In terms of administration and engineering, the turnings should have wide roads. There should be flashers in every blind curve, which will affect the psychology of driver and he will be cautious and slow down. To increase visibility the administration can use street lights with solar panels on Ghati roads.
Last but most important comes the use of barricades. The advantage of heavy steel barricades is that it can stop vehicles going at a lower speed from skidding off the road. There is also a psychological benefit of the barricades as when drivers see a barricade painted with luminous colour they know which is the end of the road and they slow down accordingly.
Another rule of driving in Ghati roads is whenever there is tyre burst or engine failure, the driver should move the vehicle to hillside of the road. As normally there is a drainage system on the hillside of the road, it will stop the vehicle and evade chances of accident.
Ali alleged that while many drivers are unaware of the rules, many experienced drivers take it for granted and their carelessness sometimes leads to such mishaps.