The government started collecting data on speed-breaker-related accidents in 2014. The figures are bleak. Speed-breakers account for 30 crashes and nine deaths every day, as per an analysis by The Times of India. As per ministry data, in 2014, 11,008 crashes were caused by speed-breakers; 11,084 in 2015. The number of deaths were 3,633 and 3,409, respectively. Speed-breakers, in fact, claimed more lives than all road accidents in Australia and the UK (2,937 deaths in 2015). Even more concerning is the fact that these figures might be an underestimation; speed-breaker accidents are sometimes clubbed with road accidents and not recorded separately. Poor material, design and lack of prominent markings account for this state of affairs. The Indian Roads Congress (IRC), in its guidelines, concedes that there is “no particular design” which is suitable for all the vehicles on the road. Based on field investigations and research reports, IRC has suggested a design that suits the average traffic on Indian roads. Speed-breakers should preferably be a rounded hump of 17 metre radius, 3.7 metres width and 0.1 metres height for the advised crossing speed of 25kph for general traffic. Further, signs warning of an approaching speed-breaker must be placed, and the hump itself should be painted black and white for it to be seen clearly by an approaching vehicle.
These guidelines are, however, seldom followed during construction, particularly in rural areas where speed-breakers can be found every 100 metres, against the rule that these can come up only at designated places after proper assessment. But some state governments have taken steps to remedy this—Karnataka, for instance, recently relaid a number of speed-breakers as they did not meet the specifications. What can be done, apart from following the guidelines set by the IRC, is the adoption of other speed curbs. Stop/Slow signs can be placed (like in the US and Canada) where slowing down is required. Alternatives such as rumble strips at accident-prone stretches (sharp curves, level crossings) can be put up. The government must also hold contractors and its own officials criminally liable for substandard speed-breakers.