Reasons why NH66 is unsafe for two wheelers - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Reasons why NH66 is unsafe for two wheelers

NH66, formerly known as NH17 runs on west coast of India from Kerala till Maharashtra. It is a four lane highway (with two lanes in many stretches still, work in progress), several toll booths and connects several cities of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa. There are many reasons why it is a lot riskier to ride on our national highways in a two wheeler than say in a big city limit. Here're a few of them, explaining the risks of riding in NH66, between Mangaluru and Bhatkal (should be same all over India).

Every week I read at least two accidents involving two wheelers on NH66.

1. High Speed driving

In a city, top speed of a vehicle is often limited as there're too many vehicles on the road. Thus probability of high speed collision is low. At the max there will be minor hit, scratch etc. But on NH66, vehicles cruise at high speed- 18 wheelers, luxury buses and container trucks are all on a race to reach their destination faster. Because of the size and speed of vehicles, any accident is usually more fatal than what would have happened in a city street.

Source: Deccan Herald

2. Wrong side driving!

The earlier 2 lane highway gave easy access to turn towards both directions. But after 4 lane highway is made, U turns are limited. At times vehicle drivers have to go 3-4 kms in one direction to find a U turn- that is 6-8 kms extra drive- waste of time, fuel and effort- so many find it convenient to drive 500 meters in wrong direction to nearest crossing or U turn. Often this disturbs oncoming traffic moving in right direction- vehicle owners now abruptly need to change lane to make space for a vehicle coming in wrong direction.

It is very easy to blame the drivers driving on wrong side, but due to poor design of the highway that costs their time, money for no fault of theirs to do it the right way, driving wrong side for few hundred meters is very common activity all over Indian highways.

3. No Signals or traffic police

Unlike a city, there're very few to zero traffic signals or police on NH66. At intersections, vehicle owners are left to fend on their own. Who takes priority, who has to wait is often dependent on who is more aggressive on the road. If you wait for everyone else to pass, you will wait forever. Not having signals often creates confusion as everyone try to assume priority and move ahead.

4. Unscientific/invisible barricades

Police have put up several barricades on the highway. The idea is to make vehicles slow down near a junction. But these barricades have no reflectors and no streetlights nearby- vehicle drivers often spot them last minute during night driving and are forced to abruptly brake or change lane to avoid these barricades. There should be street lights near barricades and reflectors should be pasted on them.

5. Wrongly placed bus shelters

At many places along NH66, bus shelters are built in wrong places- over decades people are used to board the bus in a city centre or designated spot, but bus shelters are made some 500 meters away- people are not ready to walk 500 meters to board a bus, so they wait where they used to wait and buses stop where their passengers wait. So wrongly positioned and poorly planned bus shelters are a waste of money.

Example is Kota bus stand, built 600 meters away from city.

Above: Where bus stops
Below: Where bus stop is built

6. Buses changing lanes or stopping abruptly

Private buses flying between Mangaluru and Bhatkal are notorious for changing lanes and abruptly stopping if they see a potential passenger by the road side. Keep an eye if you have a bus around you.

7. No safety measures used by two wheeler riders

Two wheeler riders on their part also lack basic precautions. No helmet, no jacket, no gloves, so they face huge risk in case of accidents.

8. Not enough light at night

Night driving is very dangerous on NH66 due to poor visibility. 

9. Not enough service roads

Service roads are few and limited to couple of big cities on the highway only. Everywhere else locals have to manage with high speed highway vehicles.

10. Narrow underpasses

Underpasses on NH66 are poorly designed- they are very narrow, so not enough space if two big vehicles face each other, no mirrors/visibility so you can't see oncoming vehicle till last minute.

11. People crossing the road

No one wants to walk 2 kms to reach nearest U turn. It is lot convenient to cross the road anywhere and everywhere. There is no divider, so people cross the road wherever they want. Drivers need to be extra careful about cyclists and locals crossing the road at random spots.

What to do to ride safely on NH66 highway?

1. Use safety gears

Use a riding jacket, gloves and good quality helmet. These can make a difference between life and death in case of an accident.

2. Buy a car- if you can financially afford it.

3. Avoid night riding- reach home before it is dark, as risk multiplies at night due to poor visibility

4. More cautious riding

Never assume safety- pay extra attention to things happening around you, mistakes other drivers may do and your escape options if something goes wrong. Stay attentive, stay alert and ride slower n safer.

5. Have emergency info easily accessible

Your blood group, emergency contact numbers and other info should be easily accessible to others in case of a road accident.

6. Upgrade to a more safer vehicles

Many vehicles now come with Blutooth connectivity using which your family members can track your location, some have SMS alert feature if bike crashes. ABS has made riding more safer. Upgrade to a better two wheeler and ensure your vehicle in great condition.

Ride safe.


  1. High Speed driving : It has got nothing to do with accidents but everything to do with everybody getting a valid driving license ,knowing and following the traffic rules ,situational awareness -being alert when driving .If you are a two wheeler you have to be extra careful .There is a massive difference between a monkey driving a motor vehicle and a human being - driving fast is not something great but driving it under control and under the speed limits on national highway is the key .You see a lot of youngsters who have no clue how to handle a four wheelers ending up in fatal accidents.

    2. Wrong side driving:

    Again the premise is totally wrong - a highway is meant to be scientifically a long stretch of road (if human settlements have come in later that's not a reason to change the format of the highway) .So the stretches with no U turns are deliberate to get a longer stretch of uninterrupted road for the highway users .So blaming the scientific highway for wrong driving habits is not acceptable .Any U turns /junctions are to be a kept at a minimum ,also all national highways are planned scientifically to keep the traffic movement moving smoothly ,they build underpasses ,flyover near human settlements (when it was originally built )

    Wrongly placed bus shelters
    NHAI builds bus shelters by taking into consideration scientific factors ,just because the old bus stand was there they cant build the new bus shelter at the same spot - they have build an exit ramp -which again has to be planned and so on ,so it is meant to keep the disruption on the highway to a minimum. ,with reason number 6 you know why the bus shelters dont work - neither the bus drivers follow rules nor the people stand at the bus stops -the plan of a bus shelter is meant be in the best interest of everyone .

    One problem in india is the human settlements develop right along the highway ,it shouldnt be that way - there are many places which have no built bypass roads ,flyover and underpasses to avoid humans on the highways but time changes everything

    1. Thanks for the detailed comment. Your points are valid, just that no one is in a mindset to adapt if it causes inconvenience to them.


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