You Could Drive Faster On Indian Roads Now
For the first time, India will now have standard speed limits. The Centre has given its approval to increase the highest speed limit for cars in urban areas to 70 kilometre per hour (kmph) up from the earlier 60 kmph. For cargo carriers, the new limit set is 60 kmph, and for two-wheelers it is 50 kmph.
Also, the highest speed limit for cars running on expressways has been increased to 120 kmph from the existing 100 kmph. On the national highways, this limit has been raised to 100 kmph from the earlier 80 kmph.
Earlier, while the Union Ministry of Transport used to decide on the national speed limits, many city authorities did not issue these limits to the citizens, calling for discrepancies. However, now these limits will be applicable all across.
In the fast lane
In an address to the Lok Sabha in January, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had claimed that 130 km of roads were being constructed every day under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Looking at the number of road projects, that includes highways, expressways, ring roads and arterial roads, the infrastructure now allows the vehicles to run faster.
The increase in the speed limits can prove to be beneficial in many ways. With new class of vehicles that offer better mileage and are designed to go faster, the need is to allow these vehicles to maintain the speed. This ensures that the vehicles give the required fuel efficiency, bringing down the fuel consumption and helping the vehicle owner to save. Moreover, it is said that higher speed limits would mean reduced travel time and enhanced logistics efficiency.
Moreover, reports suggest that most of the fatalities on expressways and highways are not due to high-speed driving, but due to variation in speed. Maintaining or having a standard speed limit ensures that everyone adheres to it for a smooth flow of traffic. So, having standard speed limits like India has now can help bring down the number of road accidents and thus, ensure road safety.
Although a rise in the maximum speed limits for vehicles is a welcomed decision, certain challenges need to be overcome to get the full benefit of this move. According to the data available with the government, in 2016, 480,000 road accidents were reported in India. National highways accounted for 29.6 per cent of all road accidents while over-speeding accounted for 61 per cent. Nearly 150,000 died in road accidents. A major cause of this is the low maintenance of these roads.
Recently, the Maharashtra government had told the Bombay High Court that one of the primary reasons for traffic congestion in the city was bad and pothole-ridden roads. The state government even identified 39 black spots or traffic junctions that needed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s immediate attention. These black spots have been one of the prime reasons for accidents in the identified areas.
Maintenance would be a key concern if Indian plans to open its roads for higher speed limits.