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Yamuna Expressway bus accident: Driver likely asleep behind wheel, investigation reveals

FE Online

The investigators probing the Yamuna Expressway bus accident in which 29 people were killed have found that the driver of the bus probably fell asleep when the vehicle was at high speed, news agency PTI reported.

While most of the passengers were sleeping when the accident happened and they are not aware of the actual reason behind the accident, some survivors of the early-morning crash told the investigation team that the driver had probably dozed off, as it is generally the time when one tends to feel sleepy, Agra Additional District Magistrate (Administration) Nidhi Srivastava said.

All eye-witnesses could recall is only that the bus suddenly flung into the air with a loud bang and they found themselves in water, the official added.

The Yogi Adityanath-led UP government has constituted a committee to probe the accident early Monday was preparing its report and is likely to submit it on Wednesday. According to Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Avanish Awasthi, the committee has been tasked to investigate the reasons within 24 hours and also asked to suggest long-term measures to avoid such accidents in future.

At least 29 people were killed while 18 others were injured in the accident near Etmadpur, about 200 km from Delhi. The bus was coming from Lucknow and going to Delhi and had 50 passengers at the time of the accident. The driver of the bus that veered off the Yamuna Expressway and plunged into a deep drain probably fell asleep when the vehicle was at high speed, officials said.

The road safety experts have warned travellers on the dangers of over speeding on the six-lane 165-km expressway, linking Noida on Delhi’s outskirts with Agra, especially during early-morning hours and night. The expressway, which was opened for commercial operations, frequently remains in news due to accidents, most of them due to over speeding or drivers dozing off behind the wheel.

In 2019, at least 77 people have died in accidents on the expressway so far, according to data accessed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation through RTI. At least 703 lives were lost in 4,880 accidents between August 2012 and January last year, the NGO said.

Built at a cost of Rs 12,839 crore, the expressway in western Uttar Pradesh is managed by Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA). However, the six-lane high-speed corridor has been severely criticised for its poor safety parameters and also because of the high number of accidents and deaths.

The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has identified at least three black spots on the stretch between Greater Noida and Agra. Also, rumble strips have been created at these places to keep the driver awake in case they get drowsy.