Team-BHP > Road Safety


Reply
  Search this Thread
48,781 views
Old 19th July 2022, 11:59   #1
BHPian
 
Rigid Rotor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 380
Thanked: 646 Times
Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSR View Post
I did the Thoppur section in August in both directions when I drove down to Erode and back for my cousin's wedding.

This is a very, very deceptive ghat section that's a part of the Salem-Bengaluru highway.

The highway itself is a very good one throughout (but 4-lane, not 6-lane) and sees a lot of traffic - trucks of all kinds & sizes, cars, buses and also two-wheelers, yes plenty of highly vulnerable two-wheelers use this highway. The Salem airport is also located off this highway.

The ghat section is indeed a very, very deceptive one. It's just as wide as the rest of the highway, is fairly steep in stretches ...

It's the downhill section that's very, very dangerous (i.e. from Bengaluru towards Salem) for the same reasons - it's just as wide as the rest of the highway, is fairly steep and curvy. Even heavily overloaded trucks tend to speed along this section taking advantage of the natural downhill gradient.

To be fair to the highway folks, this section has plenty, and I mean plenty of both, visual & audio warnings, asking you to slow down repeatedly, apart from rumble strips at intervals that make an unpleasant noise when you go over them at speed.

Despite all these warnings, if that moronic truck driver caused such a horrible, horrible accident, then it's all his fault. And no, I'm not buying the "brake failure" nonsense at all. Either the murderous moron was speeding uncontrollably in his monstrous tractor-trailer or he was "saving fuel" in the downhill section by coasting in neutral...
This post is an attempt to re-emphasise the clear and present danger of daily accidents at NH-44 Thoppur ghat section – on the Bangalore-Salem NH44 route, about 35 km short of Salem.

It is a 4-6 km long downhill stretch with deadly accident statistics. At least 500+ lives appear to have been lost on this short stretch since 2010.

I had got stuck in an hour-long jam on the downslope section twice during three trips during the past four months on that route and my colleague was stuck once during the same period. These jams are usually because a truck has either hit the median or side and toppled, often due to brake fade.

Whereas traffic jams are just inconveniences, on this route it is also the possible precursor to a second and more deadly collision – another speeding heavy truck comes downslope coasting on brakes and jack-knifes into the rear-end of the slow traffic around a bend in the road, with deadly results especially on cars, SUVs and light vehicles sandwiched in-between. You can forget about depending on crashworthiness or GNCAP scores for any form of protection.

RSR and other posts pertain to the deadly multiple collisions during 14 Sep 2021.

However, an on-line search for accidents on this stretch for just this year (2022) will give a shockingly high number of results. I also spoke to a couple of local residents at a restaurant, just at the end of the downslope. They stated that truck accidents are occurring at least every alternate day, if not on a daily basis.

Press reports of the multiple collisions on the morning of my crossing this section during April:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/sta...d-2442301.html

and


and
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities...le65329307.ece

A You-Tube video of another accident in April (thankfully a single truck):


Another single truck accident- 13 July, when I was crossing this section:


Trucks coasting in neutral or higher gear, using brakes:
Check out this You Tube video at time 2:40 - a laden truck is moving at high speed and using brakes to control speed (using the inner fast lane).


The NH-44 Thoppur stretch has two 'S' turns back-to-back culminating in a narrow bridge that becomes a bottle-neck of sorts:Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)-thoppur1.jpg

The NH-44 Thoppur toll plaza is about 2 km north of the downslope section:
Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)-thoppur2.jpg

Possible strategy for tackling this downslope stretch to Salem:
• Stop and inquire about the traffic situation at the toll plaza (which is on level terrain about 2 km before the downslope commences.
• Check on Google or on-board connected nav if there is a traffic pile-up (map route will appear in Red for that stretch).
• Proceed only if reported clear, else its recommended to stop and park just after the toll plaza and proceed only after the pile-up has been cleared.
• If a pile-up occurs after one has crossed the toll plaza, then maintain left lane. Check rear view frequently and if one spots a truck approaching the tail end of traffic at high speed, then pull over to the side immediately.
• If one’s vehicle is at the tail-end of a pile-up, its preferable to pull over to the side and wait till traffic movement resumes.

There does not seem to be any alternate fast routes for vehciles proceeding further south.

Any suggestions by fellow forum members?
Rigid Rotor is offline   (56) Thanks
Old 19th July 2022, 12:26   #2
BHPian
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 162
Thanked: 393 Times
Re: Pics: Accidents in India

^ I too remember when I traveled for the first time on this stretch on a bike and how it appeared not so dangerous while approaching, but soon I realised how easy it is to lose control once you are in it on a higher speed.

Authorities have painted it white with rumble strips/markers like a painting and loudspeakers scream "slow down" all day on this stretch - even then accidents happen due to not having patience and considering yourself driving expert/being self-ignorant of not having skill to negotiate this at high speeds. Not to forget truckers who are otherwise well behaved on highways.

Post that I have traveled a lot on this stretch in a car and I always take left lane, stick to speed limit and have a continuous look at rear view mirrors while on down-slope and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. That being said, it takes real patience while on up-slope to control the urge to overtake, specially in heavy traffic. It is always a good idea to not get stuck behind a truck(in case they lose torque and brakes) and better be behind small vehicles while climbing here.
amods is offline   (8) Thanks
Old 20th July 2022, 14:54   #3
Ice
BHPian
 
Ice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Blr/Chn
Posts: 363
Thanked: 349 Times
Re: Thoppur Ghat on NH-44 Bangalore-Salem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigid Rotor View Post
This post is an attempt to re-emphasise the clear and present danger of daily accidents at NH-44 Thoppur ghat section – on the Bangalore-Salem NH44 route, about 35 km short of Salem.

There does not seem to be any alternate fast routes for vehicles proceeding further south.

Any suggestions by fellow forum members?
I completely agree with your take on the road. In my opinion, the road does not have adequate banking on the turns, especially the long left-hander that one hits first on the way down. I feel that better banking will at least reduce the number of rollovers.

The Highway Authorities could also put a couple of things into place:
1. Three toll lanes on the extreme left can be Truck-Only lanes. All trucks will have to pass through this, and a mandatory visual check of tires and the pressure gauge for air-brakes can be done by the Police.
2. Runaway truck ramps can be created at the top of the two S-bends.
3. "Your Speed" signs with loud audio warnings if one is found exceeding xx kmph. can be organized.

I drive this stretch at least four times a year, and am constantly keeping an eye on the mirror.
Ice is offline   (4) Thanks
Old 20th July 2022, 16:28   #4
Distinguished - BHPian
 
neil.jericho's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Cochin
Posts: 3,834
Thanked: 19,910 Times
Re: Thoppur Ghat on NH-44 Bangalore-Salem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigid Rotor View Post
This post is an attempt to re-emphasise the clear and present danger of daily accidents at NH-44 Thoppur ghat section – on the Bangalore-Salem NH44 route, about 35 km short of Salem.
Rigid Rotor, Ive been driving and riding through the Thoppur ghats since 2008. God knows how many times I have been through that stretch. Honestly, the most dangerous part of that road is driver / rider carelessness. If you are going from Bangalore / Hosur towards Salem, the preceding kilometers are extremely uneventful. Drivers / riders end up being complacent when they enter the Thoppur ghats. Careful drivers / riders have nothing to worry about.

Travelling from Salem to Bangalore / Hosur can be tricky if there are multiple lorries on the Thoppur ghats. They crawl up the slopes and everyone else gets impatient. Again, a careful driver will have nothing to worry about in these ghats.

Kudos to the authorities for their recent measures to make these ghats even safer than before. The first time I heard the voice call out "Please slow down", while I was riding through the Thoppur ghats, I did freak out
neil.jericho is offline   (17) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 10:12   #5
Team-BHP Support
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 18,428
Thanked: 79,318 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem) - Posts moved to a new thread.
Aditya is offline  
Old 21st July 2022, 10:58   #6
Senior - BHPian
 
tharian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: SBC
Posts: 4,029
Thanked: 8,167 Times
Re: Thoppur Ghat on NH-44 Bangalore-Salem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigid Rotor View Post
This post is an attempt to re-emphasise the clear and present danger of daily accidents at NH-44 Thoppur ghat section – on the Bangalore-Salem NH44 route, about 35 km short of Salem. .

There does not seem to be any alternate fast routes for vehciles proceeding further south.

Any suggestions by fellow forum members?
1. Build a truck runaway ramp and educate the truck drivers about it.
2. Build a complete new road on a different alignment which is not as steep.

On the hand, Thoppur ghats has seen all kind of loads fallen on the road. Once when I was passing through, there was a fishing trawler that was lying on the road after the trick carrying it hit the divider. There was a photo I have from a newspaper clipping of a meter gauge diesel loco lying on the road.

The crane and recovery operators are surely minting money working on this stretch.
tharian is offline   (6) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 13:39   #7
Newbie
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Ernakulam
Posts: 12
Thanked: 79 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

I travelled on this section in Jan 2022, and in Mar 2022. There were jams both ways of upto 1Hour 32 mins approx. and I ended up seeing some mangled remains a little later (unsure if the jam was because of that or if it was from earlier)

Couple of techniques I adopted to ensure I steer clear of danger:

1. NEVER be in-between 2 trucks/heavy vehicles. You see an out ? Take it quick. If the vehicle behind you fails to apply the brakes in time - you will be sandwiched!

2. Keep an eye on the speedo - My max speed was 45 Kmph here. Not fast and not slow either, with gentle taps on the brakes.

3. Use that handbrake if you are approaching a halt uphill, it saved me couple of rollbacks because driving in that jam is bound to stress you and/or the clutch out sooner or later

4. Lastly --There are also monkeys on the road and during peak jams I saw few folks feeding the monkeys and leaving the litter on the road. Some infants abruptly try to take these remains as you are on approach, so stick to daytime to ensure better visibility. Sooner the better!
IceManMK1 is offline   (3) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 14:57   #8
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Bengaluru
Posts: 180
Thanked: 498 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

I have driven through those ghats numerous times. While I do think the road is dangerous, it is no more dangerous than any ghat section road. For some odd reason, I have never once experienced a traffic jam on the descent into Salem (out of 50+ trips). On the other hand, I have been stuck behind 3 lanes worth of slow moving trucks on the climb to Dharmapuri.

The trouble is not just lazy drivers and poorly serviced trucks. There is the problem of overweight trucks which creates a bigger problem with the brakes. Plus, there is this cardinal rule of staying in one lower gear (1st or 2nd) without going into neutral or depressing the clutch. Even though drivers know this, there is this temptation to shift up and speed up when the opportunity presents itself. Considering our lazy training and testing, I doubt that most drivers know the importance of this discipline.
kovilkalai is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 15:08   #9
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Chennai
Posts: 1,396
Thanked: 5,866 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

Classic case of velocitation!

The design speed of this specific stretch is very slow and is responsible for all these accidents as most drivers are simply not aware of this. We all assume a specific stretch of road to be safe considering the pace and road conditions which were covered earlier.

I'd blame NHAI for cheapening out on this particular stretch. It's blood on their hands. Honestly, this stretch has seen so many accidents and I won't be surprised if there is no proposal yet for a proper fix or an alternate new road to safely navigate to the bottom of the plateau. High time this is fixed since so many people have now started driving on highways for the first time, especially those who aren't enthusiasts and aren't well educated with safety measures that need to be taken in such a stretch.

I also feel warnings like accident zone boards should be graded depending on how many accidents occur in a given area. Currently, most people ignore these warnings since the same level of warning is used for not so accident probe zones to death zones like this one.
Turbohead is offline   (3) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 15:38   #10
BHPian
 
jeeva's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: DXB / Nilgiris
Posts: 773
Thanked: 1,292 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

No offence meant, but I've been through this "dangerous" ghat section almost every other month, since I moved to Bangalore some 20+ plus ago and I think it is as bad or as good as any other road. It's the impatient/moronic/egoistic drivers that make this or any other stretch dangerous to drive on. Drivers these days seem to have no clue about driving in the correct gear, and control using engine braking.
On a similar note, this is precisely the reason why non TN (actually non Nilgiris) reg vehicles aren't allowed to climb down the Kalhatti ghats from Ooty towards Masinagudi-Mysore-Bangalore. I've lost the count of accidents that I've been a witness to in this stretch owing to brake failure (driving in higher gears/neutral, with the foot constantly on the brake pedal).

Here is a recent one - https://www.daijiworld.com/news/news...?newsID=975332

Last edited by jeeva : 21st July 2022 at 15:40.
jeeva is offline   (5) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 17:37   #11
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 128
Thanked: 143 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

While i am not aware of the ecological sensitivity of the area, i think an alternate road with a more gradual incline would help. With the focus on improving infrastructure, i'm sure the Krishnagiri - Salem stretch can lend itself to road expansion (6 lanes) and alternate route alignments.

The heavy traffic can be directed through the alternate road and lighter vehicles can continue to ply on the existing road. It will reduce the risk for vehicles downhill and also free up traffic going uphill.

As some others have posted, it does always boil down to patient and alert driving in preventing accidents.
ellip5i5 is offline  
Old 21st July 2022, 21:33   #12
Senior - BHPian
 
shankar.balan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 11,369
Thanked: 23,225 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

Much Ado about Thoppur! Yes indeed the stretch does see a large number of accidents. Especially when goong downhill from Bangalore.

But this is a very mild ghat, for anyone who has lived in and learned to drive properly in those old column shift Ambys and Fiats and Jeeps and Tractors and all in the hill stations of India. Proper training definitely plays a role here.

As Jeeva has pointed out, most of these accidents can easily be avoided if people would only drive sensibly and patiently while using the correct techniques. Drive using the gears and engine braking and do not stand on your brakes or sit on your horn while driving like a nutcase!

In all these years of driving, Ive also seen a lot of rank idiocy being perpetrated on our ghat roads. Mostly due to impatience, lack of common sense, manners and extreme insensitivity to others, bolted on to a monumental lack of driving skills and knowledge of proper techniques.

We have all the laws and guidelines in place to prevent this. The problem is in the enforcement and the deeply ingrained inherent lack of compliance/ adherence.

Because in India, each one is more equal than the other and this spawns a breezy disregard for rules and regulations and even common sense guidelines.

The attitude is: Rules are for others. Not for me. Do you know who I am? And the road toll simply claims such foolhardy people.
shankar.balan is offline   (4) Thanks
Old 21st July 2022, 21:55   #13
Distinguished - BHPian
 
Rajeevraj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 4,653
Thanked: 17,990 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

I think the problem with the Thoppur Ghat is that it is visually deceptive. Especially considering the terrain before and after. The gradual curves, gradient, banking all look deceptively normal.

Now, if one is tackling it at normal ghat section speeds of say 50kmph max (30-40 for trucks), it is absolutely fine and a very innocent and basic ghat section. Problem is that most people not experienced with the section, think they can continue to rush through at 90kmph (trucks maybe 60kmph) and then the small deceptive issues can catch you off guard.
Rajeevraj is offline   (6) Thanks
Old 22nd July 2022, 07:51   #14
Distinguished - BHPian
 
vigsom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: NSEW
Posts: 3,831
Thanked: 26,698 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigid Rotor View Post
danger of daily accidents at NH-44 Thoppur ghat section which has two 'S' turns back-to-back
I have so far driven on this sector only once, but have done journeys in buses 6 times. The stretch is very deceptive and without realizing, the vehicle speeds up all of a sudden around those S bends. The first S bend doesn't throw up obstacles, so drivers enjoy the thrill and keep the speed up, and all of a sudden at the end of the second S, vehicles that have a lot of momentum can't brake in time and lose control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amods View Post
Authorities have painted it white with rumble strips/markers like a painting and loudspeakers scream "slow down"
It was a good initiative to introduce this, but from what I've observed, not one driver heeds these "go slow" warnings. Even the rumble strips don't seem to slow vehicles down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neil.jericho View Post
preceding kilometers are extremely uneventful. Drivers / riders end up being complacent when they enter the Thoppur ghats
Absolutely. It is like inviting one into a trap, and complacency proves very very painful and expensive.

No amount of education, awareness etc. is going to change the way drivers drive on this stretch. Some of them will argue that diesel costs have gone up and that is why they are forced to do this - I challenge that even if diesel costs are reduced to 1/4th of now, the statistics won't change. Same even if every vehicle on this sector is given 200 bucks as incentive to drive safe.

1. Under the present circumstances, although impractical, the only way this can be curbed is for the speed on this section to drop gradually from, say 60kmph to 30kmph by making the surface progressively bad OR by building barriers like how it has been done at several intersections on the Chennai - Kanyakumari highway.

2. Also, an alternate route via Dharmapuri or Thoppur toll to Salem could be considered for cars.
vigsom is offline   (3) Thanks
Old 22nd July 2022, 09:10   #15
Senior - BHPian
 
jkrishnakj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,680
Thanked: 4,366 Times
Re: Accidents on Thoppur Ghat section of NH-44 (Bangalore-Salem road, 35 km short of Salem)

Having driven through this stretch innumerable times, I am convinced that it’s not as smooth as it appears. The gradual decline combined with the curved roads is quite inviting, yet deceptive, like many have already pointed out. I’ve been stuck here just once when a truck had skidded off and had fallen to the sides.

In my automatic Crysta, I just take my foot off the accelerator and I can feel the engine braking. That works for me.

The route from Salem to Bangalore is a bigger pain, on the inclines. Everyone wants to rush across and the trucks are battling overtaking each other at 21/22/23 km/hour in all three lanes and most cars don’t have the patience for 3-4 minutes. Cutting in and out is something you’ll witness by 90% of the cars/tempo’s/Ace vehicles and that makes it even more dangerous.
jkrishnakj is offline   (5) Thanks
Reply

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks