HYDERABAD: Jolted by the death of four medical students of Osmania Medical College in a road mishap while returning to Hyderabad from Vijayawada in a Dhanunjaya travels bus, Regional Transport Authority (RTA) officials have decided to crack the whip on private travels bus drivers, who drive under the influence of alcohol.

Except on rare occasions, drivers are never checked for alcohol consumption on the HyderabadVijayawada national highway. Though there are three toll points and an RTA checkpost on the stretch, staff manning these plazas seldom run breathalyser test on motorists, especially transport vehicle drivers.

In case of the Dhanunjaya travels bus, which was involved in an accident at Surayyapalem near Gollapudi in Vijayawada late on Monday night, the driver was found to be in an inebriated state when the journey started in Vijaywada itself. He rammed the bus into a tree a little later.

RTA officials, who wake up from slumber only after major road accidents, now want to carry out breathalyser test on bus drivers with the help of traffic police. Though transport department and other wings have been claiming that sale of liqour on highways was prohibited, some dhabas on the highway illegally allow consumption of liquor.

Following the road mishap, Telangana transport department has decided to issue a notice to Dhanunjaya Travels management asking them to explain why their permit should not be cancelled. “As the driver of the bus, which was involved in the mishap, is dead, we will issue notice to the bus owner . How could the travel agency allow an inebriated driver to be at the wheel,” joint transport commissioner (Hyderabad) T Ranganath told TOI.

Except on some occasions, RTA officials give a free ride to travel buses. Last December and during Sankranti festival, a special drive was conducted by RTA officials, but the all-important drunk driving never featured in their drives. On the highway, neither the district police nor officials of Road Safety Authority or RTA take any action on the erring motorists.

Joint transport commissioner BVenkateshwarlu said efforts were being made to put in place a system, in coordination with police, for better enforcement of rule. On Wednesday, 70 buses were booked for indulging in various offences, but RTA officials, facing flak for the Vijayawada accident, remained silent about the crackdown.
Source: TOI-Hyd