Truck driver files FIR against Shabani Azmi-Javed Akthar’s SUV driver for rash driving

Noted Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi and her lyricist husband Javed Akthar were involved in a car crash on the Mumbai-Pune expressway on Saturday, the 18th of January, 2020. The truck driver – Rajesh Pandurang Shinde – has filed a FIR with the Raigad Police, alleging that Shabani Azmi’s driver – Kamlesh Kamath – was driving recklessly.

Shabana Azmi Tata Safaru Crash Featured

The accident happened at afternoon when the Tata Safari Storme SUV that the Bollywood couple were in crashed into the back of a moving truck near Khalapur, about 60 kilometers away from Mumbai.

The Safari Storme, likely at a speed higher than that of the truck it hit, has hit the left hand rear side of the truck, and the driver of the SUV appears to have tried to steer the vehicle away from the truck’s rear. From the pictures, it’s clear that the truck did not have under-run protection, which is mandated by law. A lower slung sedan would have directly gone under the truck, and could have been dragged along by the truck after the crash.

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It is not clear whether the accident has anything to do with speeding. What’s clear from the images is that the SUV was not trying to pass the truck from the left hand side. While Javed Akthar was uninjured in the crash, wife Shabani Azmi has been hospitalized with a head injury and a minor injury to her backbone. It remains unclear as to whether all occupants of the Tata Safari Storme SUV, including its driver, were wearing seatbelts. Also, in case of a crash when one vehicle rear-ends other, it’s assumed that the vehicle that has crashed into the rear of the other vehicle is at fault.

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The FIR copy says the following,

Due to rash driving by the driver, the car hit the moving truck on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway which resulted in the accident. 

Meanwhile, Raigad Superintendent of Police Paraskar, had this to say,

We have booked driver Kamlesh Kamath under Indian Penal Code Sections 279 and 337 for rash and negligent driving and provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. He is not yet arrested. The car will be sent for an inspection to RTO (regional transport office) to ascertain if there was any fault in the vehicle or if the mishap took place after the driver lost control. We will collect Azmi’s medical report from the MGM Hospital where she was initially taken. The driver’s medical examination was also conducted and he was not found under the influence of alcohol.

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Mumbai Pune Expressway witnesses multiple accidents every day

  • The Mumbai Pune Expressway is a high-speed road that witnesses multiple accidents everyday, and many of them end up killing people.
  • Speeding is one of the biggest reasons for crashes on the expressways, and drivers of private vehicles – mainly cars – are the ones who speed.
  • Heavy vehicles – mainly trucks – hog the overtaking (right-most lane) and this results in car drivers taking the left-most lane for overtaking, greatly increasing the chances of a crash.
  • Overtaking on the wrong side is a major cause of accidents on the expressway.
  • Patience can save lives, and it’s highly advisable for drivers to slow down and overtake only when a safe opportunity arises. Speeding must be avoided at all costs.
  • The expressway increased the speed limit to 100 Kph a few months back, and has now reduced the speed limit to 80 Kph (the previous limit) after there were a spate of crashes once the higher speed limit was enforced.

The Tata Safari Storme involved in the crash is owned by Shabana Azmi, and was registered in 2013, which means that the SUV is nearly 7 years old. It’s a rear wheel driven, top-end VX model. It’s powered by a 2.2 liter-4 cylinder DICOR turbocharged diesel engine with 140 Bhp-320 Nm outputs, and a five speed manual gearbox is standard. ABS+EBD and twin airbags are the key safety features on the SUV.

The Safari Storme is a very solidly built SUV, and the images post accident show only the front end of the vehicle getting damaged with the cabin remaining more or less intact. This could also have to do with the fact that the truck was moving when the Safari Storme crashed into its rear. This movement of the truck is expected to have reduced the momentum of the crash. Had the truck been stationary, the impact could have been a lot higher.

Meanwhile, Tata Motors has discontinued the Safari Storme, and the body-on-ladder framed SUV will be replaced by the Gravitas, a 7 seat monocoque SUV based on the Harrier. The Gravitas will be shown at the 2020 Indian Auto Expo. It is expected to be priced about Rs. 1 lakh more than the Harrier, with which it’ll share engines and gearboxes.