Speed breakers, the purpose of which is to force riders to apply brakes on rushing motor vehicles, have apparently become reasons for loss of lives on roads across India. A data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways shows that speed breakers account for an average 10 deaths a day in the country, according to The Indian Express report. In a shocking revelation, the data also shows that in 2015, there were 11,000 speedbreaker-related accidents across the country resulting in 3,409 deaths. In 2014, speedbreakers account for an average 30 accidents and 10 fatalities every day. The most number of speedbreaker-related deaths occurred in Uttar Pradesh. UP is followed by two southern states- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In Uttar Pradesh, 990 and 1,753 people lost lives in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Notably, In 2015, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh accounted for 6,073 — 55 per cent of the total — such accidents.
“To put these numbers in perspective, 990 was about a fifth the number of murder cases reported in the state in 2015. UP topped all states in the number of murders that year, accounting for nearly 15 per cent of the total 32,127 murder cases in the country, according to National Crime Records Bureau data. Deaths on account of speedbreakers in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 and 2014 — 15 and 17 respectively — amounted to nearly half the number of soldiers killed in the state in each of those years: 33 soldiers in 2015 and 32 in 2014,” the Indian Express report says. However, the numbers of both accidents and deaths came down sharply in UP in 2015 in comparison to 2014 — from 3,192 to 1,753, and from 1,654 to 990 respectively, the report says. Bihar is also witnessing the same trend. But West Bengal, Gujarat and Karnataka witnessed the opposite trend.
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Government officials say even these high numbers may be an underestimation, as accidents caused due to speedbreakers get clubbed under the broader category of road accidents in many cases. There is no overarching set of norms on speedbreaker construction, and the Indian Roads Congress (IRC), the apex body of highway engineers set up by the government, in its guidelines on “the provision of speedbreaker for control of vehicular speeds on minor roads”, concedes there is “no particular design” suitable for all types of vehicles using a road. For example, a speedbreaker designed for trucks can be dangerous for motorcyclists, and one designed for motorcyclists could be ineffective for trucks. The IRC’s design recommendation, therefore, is basically a compromise to suit average Indian road traffic conditions. Based on field investigations and research, it has suggested that speedbreakers be provided a rounded (of 17-metre radius) hump of 3.7 metres width and 0.10 metres height for the preferred advisory crossing speed of 25 km/h for general traffic. This must be changed in areas that see a higher proportion of heavier vehicles, it says. The IRC has also recommended that signs should be put up warning drivers of an approaching speedbreaker, and that speedbreakers should be painted with alternating black and white bands or with luminous strips, or be embedded with cat’s eyes — reflective road safety devices — to give additional visual warning at night.
Earlier, Delhi High Court had asked the Arvind Kejriwal government to ensure that roads are properly tarred after removal of unauthorised speed breakers. A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar had directed the Public Works Department (PWD) of Delhi government after the court was told that in most places, the roads are left in a bad state after speed breakers are removed. The court also told the PWD to put up proper signages at appropriate points regarding speed breakers and U-turns to warn drivers in advance to help reducing accidents. The bench was hearing two PILs filed against unauthorised construction of speed breakers on city roads without complying with the guidelines of Indian Road Congress (IRC) and the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC).
(With agency inputs)