Life for us moves at a fast pace. We are all running literally and figuratively as if the world is coming to an end. The pause button seems to be missing from our system. We don’t feel the need to slow down or apply brakes in our lives and it is no different when it comes to driving on Indian roads. Everyone is in a hurry to reach their destination fast and quick. But the result is what we read in the newspapers every morning. A BMW crashes into an auto because of over speeding, a truck mows down a biker for speeding or a speeding car loses control and turns turtle.
Speeding Facts in India
It therefore does not come as a surprise when we learn that speeding is the biggest cause of road fatalities on India. As per the NCRB Report, in year 2015, speeding resulted in 60,969 deaths and along with dangerous driving 48,093 comprising 109,062 (75%) of road crash deaths (148,707).The faster a vehicle travels the greater is the impact of the crash. The most vulnerable population of speed driving are pedestrians and cyclists. Dangerous driving or overtaking has resulted in 48,093 deaths and leaving 146,059 injured. With the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week (8-14 May) in progress it is high time India addresses the issue of speeding on an urgent basis. The UN health agency points out that simply a five per cent cut in the average speed can result in a 30 per cent reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes. Simply addressing this key issue of speeding will lead to safer roads.
Government’s Role in Controlling Speeding
There is no doubt that there is an urgent call for action for the people to slow down. The government is also playing a major role in this. Currently the penalty for driving over the speed limit is Rs 400 for first time offenders and upto Rs 1000 for subsequent offenders. For driving dangerously (jumping signal, using hand-held communications devices while driving, driving/overtaking in wrong directions) Rs.1000 fine or 6-months jail will or both will be imposed for the first offence and Rs.2000 fine or 3-years jail term or both for subsequent offence. However, all is set to change as the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to increase the penalty to Rs.1000-2000 for the first offence for LMVs and Rs.2000-4000 for speeding by M&HMVs. For second/subsequent offence, driving licence of the driver can be impounded. For dangerous driving, penalty would be Rs.1000-5000 fine and 6month-1year jail.
Measures to Control Speed
An important measure that can control speed is setting a speed limit of 45-50 km/hr in cities and 25-30 kms/hr on roads where pedestrians and other vulnerable road users are present. There should be effective laws and stricter implementation by the government and social groups to control speeding. The public needs to be sensitised on the effects of rash driving and overspeeding. It is important that speeding data be collected and analysed regularly. Remember it is important for you to attend that business meeting, it is important for you to be on time for your daughter’s 10th birthday, it is important for you to drop your son to school on time, but nothing can be more important than your life or lives of your loved ones. So go steady but go slow should be your life’s new mantra. And remember what Mahatma Gandhi said – ‘There’s more to life than simply increasing its speed.’