Speed breakers on Indian roads kill more than 10,000 people every year

Mental block.
Mental block.
Image: AP Photo/Manish Swarup
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Anyone who’s driven on Indian roads will know this: speed breakers in the subcontinent can be damaging. Usually unmarked and terribly designed, these undulating contraptions can effortlessly rattle bones and contort car chassis.

They can also be lethal. India’s speed breakers are responsible for over 10,000 deaths every year. The country already has one of the deadliest road networks in the world, with 400 fatalities every day—or about one death every four minutes.

In a reply to a parliamentary question last week, India’s junior roads minister, Pon Radhakrishnan, provided a detailed breakup (pdf) of road fatalities caused due to speed breakers. In 2015, according to government data, 11,084 individuals died because of speed breakers. In 2014, the fatality count was only marginally lower at 11,008.

Evidently, this isn’t a regional problem, considering that states across northern and southern India are the biggest contributors to speed breaker-related fatalities.

The government’s response seems to be feeble. “Ministry (of roads) is discouraging construction of speed breakers on National Highways,” Radhakrishnan said in his written reply. ”However, unauthorised speed breakers are sometimes constructed by local people. They are removed as and when they are brought to the notice of road authorities.”

That’s all. There are no plans to even standardise speed-breaker construction, improve markings or provide warnings signs. Why? Because the “Central Road Research Institute (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) has not proposed any codes/ standards for the design of speed breakers or associated warning boards,” the minister explained.

Till then, the bloodshed will likely continue.