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Speedbreakers : Is it time for a change?



National School of Journalism (NSoJ) Bureau, Bangalore: Used by the Traffic Police department of a city to reduce the speed of the millions of vehicles which go over it everyday, wherever needed. Yes, you guessed it right, these are the speedbreakers found all over Bengaluru and all other cities too. Intended to be used for the good of the society, these speedbreakers sometimes become dangerous for unsuspecting commuters, causing accidents.

There are laws governing speed breakers, but very few government officers and even motorists are aware of these laws and design specifications. Speed breakers might help in slowing down traffic and reducing high speed crashes, but an unplanned or illegal speed breaker can be as much (if not more) dangerous than the high speed crashes it is trying to prevent. It is very common across India to see speed breakers being laid carelessly and most of the time without the permission of the authorities.

3D Speed Breaker - painted using reflective paint


As per the Indian Road Congress guidelines, dated 12 June 1987, speed breakers must be placed on minor roads and residential areas, especially near institutions like schools and hospitals. Speed Breakers are not recommended to be used on high-speed roads or highways outside urban limits.

Mr. Prakash, whose shop is located near a speedbreaker said, “Unmarked speedbreakers have done more harm than good as, many accidents have taken place because of them. He went on to say that the speed breaker located just outside his shop in Jakkur has caused nine accidents and that the risk only increases when it rains.”
According to the ‘Tentative guidelines on the Provision of speed breakers for control of vehicular speeds’, a set of guidelines first printed by the Indian Road Congress in 1988 and re-printed six times since, says that the use of speed breakers is justified only in the following circumstances:
T-Junctions of Minor Roads and rural trunk highways with fairly high average speeds
Intersections joining minor roads with major roads
Selected local roads in residential areas
Near schools, colleges, hospitals etc.
Any area where there is consistent record of accidents primarily attributed to the high relative speed of vehicles.
The Indian Road Congress has also provided guidelines and specifications to be followed while installing a speed breaker in any location. According to the guidelines, a speed breaker should have a radius of 17m with a width of 3.7m and a height of 0.1m. This is calculated to reduce the speed of the vehicle to 25kmph. It also specifies that if needed, these speed breakers can be built at regular intervals to ensure that vehicles do not accelerate more than the intended speed.
The location and the implementation of the speed breakers are always decided by the Traffic Police department of that area. A traffic policeman who did not want to be named said, “speed breakers are supposed to be marked and a signboard has to be put up 40 metres before the speed breaker, but this is not found in most places and hence is not in accordance with the IRC guidelines.”
To serve the purpose of reducing speed, albeit in a safe manner, Science has once again come to the rescue with 3D speed breakers. Earlier this month, the New Delhi Municipal Council put up a 3-Dimensional speed breaker on Rajaji Marg as part of an initiative to keep flow of traffic under control. The speed breaker is painted on the road using reflective paint, allowing drivers to see it from a distance and slow down in time. this 3D technology definitely is safer than the existing speed breakers and could very well could be the future too. Maybe it is time Namma Bengaluru got one of these.