Speed-breakers killed nine people daily in India in 2014-15
Data from the road transport ministry has revealed that speed-breakers are a leading cause of deaths in India. At least nine people die in about 30 accidents daily caused by the 'safeguards' of the road.
In comparison to the 3,409 deaths in India only due to speed-breakers in 2015, Australia and UK had a combined fatality of 2,937 in road accidents the same year.
Speed-breakers: Lifesavers or killers?
A more detailed look at state-wise figures
In 2015, Karnataka, MP and UP accounted for 55% of the total speed-breaker-related accidents.
The most deaths in both 2014 and 2015 were recorded in UP. In J&K, 15 and 17 people died in speed-breaker-related accidents in 2014 and 2015; the number of soldiers killed were 32 and 33 respectively.
Speed-breaker deaths reduced significantly in UP and Bihar from 2014 to 2015.
What converts them from lifesavers to killers?
In India, most speed-breakers, meant to reduce the probability of accidents, are improperly designed and constructed with poor material. Moreover, there is no consistency in their placement on roads.
In many non-urban areas, locals themselves construct makeshift 'speed-breakers' with bricks.
In the words of Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, "We have speed-breakers on every road which can break your bones and damage your vehicle."
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Will 3D-painted 'speed-breakers' trick drivers?
Last year, the ministry introduced 3D-painted virtual 'speed-breakers' to trick drivers into slowing down.
From far, the images of blocks would look like real barriers; they would be clear only when the rider has arrived at within inches of the paintings.
However, critics predicted once people figured out the technique, the 'speed-breakers' would stop having an effect.
What can be done?
Experts say construction of speed-breakers should depend on type of road. Eg, intersections of minor and major roads should have speed-breakers.
Construction should be decided based on how crash-prone the area is.
World Bank road safety consultant AP Bahadur emphasizes the importance of proper warning signals so they are easy to spot.
Bahadur also suggests alternatives like 5mm thermoplastic layers and rumble strips.
So what is actually being done?
One drawback is that the road transport ministry cannot enforce rules on states, it can only advise them. However, Gadkari says the government will make all attempts to ensure guidelines are followed and proper assessment conducted while constructing speed-breakers.