Hi-tech equipment to detect speed limit offenders on expressway

By Mirudhula Thambiah

A new method of detecting speeding vehicles travelling on the Southern Expressway will be adopted by the Traffic Police in the near future. New technology equipment named the TruCAM Laser Gun will be used to detect speeding on the expressway. This laser gun can also detect vehicles approaching from a 150 km distance, SSP K. Arasaratnam, Director for Traffic Administration and Road Safety told the Sunday Times.

A hybrid car that had skidded on the expressway between Kottawa and Panadura being towed away by Highway Police this week. Pic by Mangala Weerasekera

A total of 11 accidents have taken place on the Southern Expressway with most of them occurring due to speeding. Therefore, the Traffic Police have decided to implement the new method soon to prevent such accidents. Print outs can be taken from the laser gun giving details of the vehicle number, date, time and speed, SSP Arasaratnam said.

Any driver who challenges the police on his speeding will be given the printout as proof. SSP Arasaratnam further explained that overtaking is frequently taking place on the expressway with some drivers doing so without using the trafficators on their vehicles. According to the Traffic Ordinance, all vehicles should travel on the left lane of the road, switching to the right lane only when overtaking a vehicle. However, drivers are in the habit of speeding on both lanes, which could lead to accidents, he said.

He said that passengers who do not wear their seat belts when traveling on the expressway will be charged, with the police strictly implementing this rule. At the outset when the expressway was inaugurated there were many stray dogs on the expressway, but the environment has changed now with the increased movement of vehicles so the number of dogs straying on the expressway has decreased, he added.

At the toll gate

Meanwhile Road Development Authority (RDA) chairman R.W.R Premasiri said until now the number of accidents is few with no fatal accidents taking place. Recently we have discussed with the police the apprehension of drivers of vehicles travelling at more than 100 km. per hour. Drunken drivers will be prosecuted in courts, he said.


SSP Arasaratnam

Birds and other animals crossing the highway are somewhat difficult to control as this road runs through a rural area. Birds like the peacock, would suddenly fly across the expressway. But in time to come, such instances will be reduced, he said.

“We are discussing about giving some sort of season tickets for frequent travellers at a reduced price. The prices have not been decided yet but would be fixed during the beginning of next year,” he said.
Mr. Premasiri said on an average Rs. 1.4 million is being collected as toll charges. The revenue collection is increasing daily with Rs. three million being collected last Sunday.

Mr. Premasiri said the revenue collected will be deposited in the Treasury. Part of the money will be used for the maintenance of the highway and for payment of staff. “We have got a large staff operating on the expressway. There are many toll gates with toll collecting staff in addition to the traffic police, the fire brigade and the para-medical team. We have to operate this expressway round the clock. On the request of the RDA the Treasury will release a specified amount,” he added.When asked about the exact amount, he said in a month’s time an accurate figure could be given, but approximately Rs.20 million will be allocated for the maintenance of the expressway.

Speaking about the revenue breakdown, Mr. Premasiri said on the first day more than Rs. one million was collected from 4,700 vehicles within 12 hours while the highest revenue was Rs. three million on December 4 from 10,600 vehicles.

Road networks in the pipeline
The upcoming road network projects by the RDA are the extension of the southern expressway to Matara, a distance of 30 km. which will be opened in early 2013, cutting travel time to half an hour from Galle to Matara. However, the extension of the expressway to Hambantota is in the designing stage.
The other expressway will be from Colombo to Katunayake, a distance of 25 km., due to open in early 2013, from the Kelaniya bridge to Katunayake. The travel time for the distance would be 20 to 25 minutes.

The designing of the Colombo-Kandy expressway, is in the planning stage with the outer circular road to be constructed from Kottawa to Kerawalapitiya. There is also a proposal to construct a highway up to Jaffna, but it has not yet been designed. This would be from Puttalam to Jaffna via Mannar and Pooneryn.

Toll charges
At the moment, four categories of tickets and price structures are imposed on vehicles. Rs. 400 is charged for a car to travel the entire distance from Kottawa to Pinnaduwa, covering 95km. Containers will be charged Rs.2000, a large bus would be charged Rs.1500 and a van would be charged Rs.700.

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