Speed is the single largest killer on India’s roads. According to data compiled by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in 2015, 44.2 per cent (64,633 out of 1,46,133 deaths) of road accident deaths were a direct consequence of overspeeding, while of the total accidents 47.9 per cent (2,40,463 out of 5,01,423 accidents) were linked to this.
In India urban speed limits vary for different states, roads and vehicle types. This does not meet the global standards defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which requires countries to have a national urban maximum speed limit of 50 km/hour.
The currently applicable law, the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, prescribes a fine of up to ₹400 for a person caught driving at a speed above the applicable limit. For second-time offenders, this could go up to ₹1,000. This figure has been revised to ₹2,000 for first-time offenders in the proposed Amendment to this Act, which has been pending for review with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture for nearly six months.
It is no secret that this is one of the biggest gaps in India’s approach to road safety. In its assessment of the enforcement of speed limits, the WHO’s Status Report on Road Safety 2015 gives India an abysmal 3 on 10.
We need night vision cameras and there should be warnings about these cameras beforehand—people will automatically slow down. Additionally, we can have digital speed meters that gauge and warn people if they are speeding.
Leveraging technology seems to be the best bet to combat India’s propensity to speed and lack of manpower to enforce regulations, and this is something that the Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has even stated on multiple occasions.