Improper speed humps: Causing casualties, revealing arbitrariness

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By Om Shankar Kiradoo, Kavish Vyas

ABSTRACT

The improper and unscientific use of speed breakers causes distraction and leads to the road accidents and loss of lives. In addition to this driver cannot recognize the unmarked speed breakers and lose their control on vehicle which also leads to accidents, injuries and death. In this essay an approach has been made to identify rules and regulations related to speed humps. This paper describes the various problem associated with unscientific construction of speed breakers. In this essay we have made an attempt to determine the binding value of IRC guidelines & suggest suitable remedial measures regarding how the construction of improper Speed breakers can be stopped.

Key Words: Speed Breakers, Unscientific Speed Breakers, Arbitrary, Rule of Law, Regulations, Indian Road Congress

INTRODUCTION

Road safety is clearly a public health issue involving morbidity & mortality. As per WHO road safety is not an accident & traffic accident are predictable & preventable.[1]Road safety is a matter of concern for our country. Every year millions of people lose their life, just because road safety measures are properly implemented & followed in our country. Constructing Speed Breakers on roads is a way to strengthen road safety measures. Speed Breakers or Speed Humps are designed are designed to limit the speed of vehicles, so that road accident can be minimized due to excessive speeding.

The main objective behind constructing a speed breaker is to lessen the speed so to reduce the chances of accidents but vice-a-versa is happening instead of fulfilling this objective it has been causing lot of trouble. In fact, if we look at present scenario speed breakers are taking huge amount of human lives. In 2014, as many as 11,008 accidents were caused by speed-breakers, claiming 2,633 lives. In 2015, 11,084 speed-breaker-related accidents caused 3,409 deaths.[2] According to reports, in 2016, 1,50,785 people died in road accidents which suggests that at least 413 people died every day, in 1,317 road accidents.[3] According to road transport and highways ministry speed breakers are taking 9 lives a day and causing 30 accidents in a day.[4]

According to data of police departments in states and union territories, in 2014 approximately 11,008 accidents were caused due to speed-breakers, taking 2,633 lives and injuring 9,428 people. In 2015, in 11,084 speed-breaker-related road accidents, 3,409 people lost their lives and 9,764 were injured.[5]

IRC GUIDELINES

There is no binding legislative code or statutory provision when it comes to standards for speed breakers & their maintenance. The only thing which is in present is the IRC guidelines. These IRC guidelines have provided have defined the scope of speed breakers & the norms which must be adhere while making speed breakers. Some of the highlights of the guidelines are:

A speed breaker is a hump across a roadway which is round in shape & has a greater width than that of tyre. When there are reasons to lower the speed of vehicle speed breakers leads to an arousal of stimuli in the mind of the driver to lower the speed of the vehicle.[6]

An ideal speed breaker should have the following:

  1. It must not cause excessive discomfort to drivers & passengers.
  2. It must not cause noise & harmful vibrations to adjoining buildings & residential area.
  3. It must not cause damage to the vehicle.[7]
  • SCOPE

Use of speed breakers is primarily justified under 3 conditions. The first one is the T intersection on minor roads, secondly Intersection of minor roads with major roads & finally selected local streets in college, universities, hospitals etc.[8]

  • DESIGN

The speed breakers should be having 3.7meter width, 0.10 metre height & preferred advisory crossing speed of 25 km/h for general traffic. Moreover, the minimum distance between two speed breakers should be 120 – 100 meters.[9]

  • SIGN POSTING & MARKING

As per the guidelines a board should be installed before 40 meters of the speed breakers so that the driver should be aware of the upcoming hump. In addition to that the speed breaker should be painted with white & black colour & for night visibility it should be marked with luminous paint.[10]

BINDING VALUE OF IRC GUIDELINES

There arises a valid question as to why there is so much inconvenience when there are standards for speed breakers? IRC guidelines have explicitly provided the standards & requirements for speed breakers. What is the Binding value of these guidelines? To address the question of binding value we have to look at history of IRC.

IRC is the apex body of road sector professionals & engineers formed under the chairmanship of MR. Jayakkar in 1927. It was registered as a society under Society regulation Act, 1980[11]. Therefore, the guidelines issued by IRC are not having a binding value, these guidelines do not have a statutory effect & therefore it is not enforceable by the court of law.

The Hon’ble U.P. High Court in  Mahtab Ahemad v. State of U.P.[12] held that:

It was ruled out by the court that it cannot passed an order giving effect to IRC guidelines, since they are not statutory guidelines which can be enforced by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Kewal Semlani vs Commissioner of Bombay And Ors.[13] held that:

Here, a writ application was filed u/s 226 of the constitution, the application was regarding the poor condition of the roads in Mumbai. The counsel appearing on the behalf of the appellants produced IRC guidelines before the court & the court gave strict direction to implement these guidelines. In its order the court held that

The guidelines provided by the IRC have to implement strictly. In its order the Court directed the DG of Maharashtra police & the concerned Municipal authorities to ensure that the offending speed breakers should be broken & new speed breakers should be made in the accordance with the guidelines provided by IRC.

Guru Hanuman society vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & others[14]

The High Court of Delhi reaffirmed the principle laid down in Kewal semlani case. In this case a writ petition was filed under article 226 of the Indian constitution, it was contended by the petitioner that improper speed breakers are causing great inconvenience to the general public & they must be demolished. In its order the Hon’ble High court directed the DG of Police & Municipal commissioner to adhere to the guidelines issued by IRC.

In Mehtab Ahmed case the court refused to give an order to implement IRC guidelines as it was a private claim but in the last two cases the courts adopted a flexible approach. The court order can be seen as an effort made to stress the principles of Welfare state. The binding effect of the guidelines can be questioned but the courts in absence of a specific legislation dealing with the regulation of speed breakers have considered IRC guidelines as a benchmark.

The Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in Mustak Hussain Mehndi Hussain … vs State Of Gujarat on 7 August, 2018.[15] Held that:

In this case a bench of Justice M R Shah and Justice AY Kogje directed Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the state government to produce report on speed breakers on the city roads and what rules were followed in constructing of such speed breakers. The direction was a result of a PIL filed by Mr. Amit panchal complaining about damaged roads and speed breaker which he said are built without following any norms, causing accidents. He produced several documents in support of his arguments and guidelines by Indian nation congress which was accepted by the high court.

Therefore, the views adopted by the High Courts are different as to the binding value & strict compliance of the IRC guidelines. In absence of a binding rule it would be difficult to correct the situation. Government should take a call on rules regarding the construction of Speed breakers, so that inconvenience caused by them can be minimized.

WHAT ARBITRARIESS CAN CAUSE?

  • HIGH DEATH TOLLS

In recent time Road traffic accidents have been increasing dramatically worldwide, which have become the leading cause of death by injury and the tenth-leading cause of all deaths.[16] According to global status report on road safety 2013 which states that approximately 1.24 million road traffic deaths occurred per year.[17] And these deaths are occurred due to several reasons and one of them is speed breakers. In country like India, according to Road accident report 2014 published by the road transport and highway ministry of India almost 4726 lives were lost in crashes due to speed breakers and 6672 people died in accident caused due to potholes and speed breakers.[18]

Total number of road accidents and persons killed due to speed breakers in India (2012 to 2015).

SR. NO. YEAR NO. OF           ACCIDENTS NO. OF

DEATHS

1. 2012 10746 4577
2. 2013 12675 4122
3. 2014 11008 3633
4. 2015 9428 3409
TOTAL   43875 15741

Table 01: No. of speed breakers & persons killed due to speed breakers in India.

Note: Data taken from Indiastat.

More than 15000 persons have lost their lives in the span of 4 years. This shows the adverse condition of Indian roads.

  • MEDICAL CONDITIONS & AMBULANCE DELAY:

Speed breakers can cause medical issues including back problem, abdominal injury, or other disabilities which are extremely painful.[19] Apart from major discomfort to ambulance passengers speed breakers can cause delay to ambulance which can cause death.[20]

  • DAMAGE TO VEHICLES:

Construction of unscientific speed breakers causes damage to vehicles as well. Speed breakers prompts the driver to apply breaks while riding. In case where Speed breakers are unscientifically constructed can cause unnecessarily delay & damage to the vehicles, especially to the two-wheelers.

  • POLLUTION:

The acceleration & decrease of speed caused by the speed breakers can cause atmospheric pressure. Heavy vehicle can cause excessive noise pollution & vibration to the adjoining properties.[21]

THE DUTY OF GOVERNMENT

As discussed above there are no binding rules & regulation when it comes to the construction & management of Speed Breakers. The Indian government has shown lack of intent in aspect of road safety. Lack of traffic safety in our country, hits the middle-income families the most, as these people have to face economic & emotional hardships.[22] It is not the fact that the governments is not capable to make rules regarding the management of speed breakers but it is the lack of will power which is causing trouble. The central, state governments & local governments are having the power to make rules for the protection of Motor vehicles which includes the provision of speed breakers & fixation of sign boards by the state government.[23]

  • MOTOR VEHICLE ACT, 1988:

With a view to provide adequate compensation to the victims of the road accidents the Motor Vehicle act was enacted. There are provisions under the act which deal with the power of the central & the state government to make rules regarding control of traffic under chapter VIII of the act.

Section 116 [24] As per this section the State government can permit the fixation of traffic signs on public places.

Section 138 (1) (i)[25] As per this section the state government is empower to make rules regarding the prevention of danger, injury or annoyance to the public or obstruction to the traffic.

Section 112[26] as per this section the state government is empowered to appoint an authority in order to fix speed limits.

  • MUNICIPALITIES ACT:

Municipalities are responsible for the construction & maintenance of the roads in the urban area. The respective municipalities’ act of the state empowers the local bodies to make rules regarding the management of local streets.  Following are some of the examples of the municipal act which empowers the local government to take necessary actions for ensuring safety & public health.

Gujarat Municipalities act 1963 – Section 147(1)[27] of the act empowers the municipalities to take necessary action for the maintaining the private streets in order to ensure safety, convenience & public health.

Tamil Nadu Municipalities act 1920 – Section 161 (1)[28] under this provision the municipalities at the cost of public fund can cause the maintenance of the roads & the bridges.

  • CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION:

Article 243(W)[29] read with twelfth schedule[30] suggests that it is the responsibility of the municipalities to take necessary action regarding the maintenance of the roads & ensuring public health.

RTI & PIL: A LAST RESORT

There are lot of questions regarding the correctness, legality, authorities responsible, and standards regarding the speed breakers. Now if inconvenience is caused to a person to whom he should report is also ambiguous. The adversity of the situation can be sensed from the very fact that it is not clear that on whose recommendations the authorities are making speed breakers. If the people are suggesting for a construction of a speed breaker & such suggestions are adhere to then that would be called as arbitrariness. An arbitral mechanism is involved in the whole process.

The Supreme Court in case of Kumudben Sureshchandra Decd. v. Jamnagar Municipal Corporation[31] ruled out that ‘the cause of death of deceased was the unscientific speed breaker which was constructed by BMC. The act of the corporation is not only an unauthorised act, but negligent too.’

Also, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in N.D.M.C. v. Shri Chandra kishor aggarwal[32] held that:

“it is for the authorities to prove that they were not negligent, when the doctrine of reps ipsa loquitor is invoked against them.”

As a result of that riders are having a problem consequently leading to road accidents & casualties. Authorities are also dodging the question of number of deaths caused due to improper speed breakers & the response is always in negative when it comes to their responsibilities. It is not only about the improper speed breakers even there are places where speed breakers are not constructed. As per IRC guidelines there are some places where speed breakers are must but such requirements are also not adhered to. There arises a valid question as to where a person should report his case or grievance, there are plenty of cases wherein the reason of accident is not known & they are place under miscellaneous head. No exact data is available as to how many accidents took place because of improper speed breakers or how many casualties took place because of the same.

In such a scenario courts are the last option available for the people, many writ applications have been filed to address the issue of improper speed breakers. The main problem which stands before is the availability of data on speed breakers. Data is the medium through which subtle evidence can be produce before the court of law. In many instances RTI’s have been filed to extract the information, but authorities try to dodge this question by shifting their responsibility. Gathering information through RTI is a tedious task since if there are different territorial jurisdictions involved then different applications need to be filed before different authorities. The purpose of filing a writ is to emphasis on the matter of great public importance, the courts in various cases have directed the public authorities to take cognizance of the matter & implement the IRC guidelines strictly. In many cases activist had filed PIL to raise the issue of road safety but the courts have not issued any mandatory orders to the government. PIL can be a very useful tool for enhancing road safety but PIL can be a double-edged sword as the court may not consider it as a legitimate judicial function.[33]

SUGGESTIONS

Following are the remedial measures which can prove to be handy in improving the situation:

  1. There should be standards for the construction of speed breakers. IRC guidelines should be given a binding effect so that they are strictly adhered to.
  2. The speed breakers should be provided by proper signs & these signs should be properly placed.[34]
  3. It has been observed that an arbitrary procedure is involved in making of speed breakers. An attempt should be made by the local authorities in association with the traffic police that transparency should be brought in the process of construction of speed breakers.
  4. A Redressal mechanism should be made so that the speed breakers which are causing inconvenience to the public can be reported to.
  5. Proper records regarding speed breakers should be maintained at ward level. It would help in two ways:
  • The record would show that how many legal speed breakers are there, which would raise the accountability of the authorities.
  • It would also result in keeping record of the speed breakers such as date on which speed breaker is constructed so that proper maintenance of the speed breakers can be ensured.

CONCLUSION

Speed breakers are constructed with a view to control traffic & prevent accidents. In a way speed breaker are help to manage traffic but the arbitrariness in their construction has led to raise concerns regarding safety & public health. There is no clarity in the process of construction & maintenance of speed breakers, the situation has become so worse that people are not having a redressal mechanism in reporting of their grievances. Speed breakers as the name suggest are made to limit the excessive speed, but they are not confirming to their name. There is an urgent need that the authorities should take action in regard to power confer to them regarding road safety & public health.

REFERENCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Journal Article:

  1. S Sundar and Akshima T Ghate, Accidents & Road Safety: Not High on Government’s Agenda, 48 Econ. Polit. Wkly. 77, 77 (2013).
  2. Sanjeev Shami, Road Traffic Safety: Cost of Government Neglect, 40, Econ. Polit. Wkly. 1598, 1601 (2005).
  3. Girish Agarwal, Is Public Interest Litigation an Appropriate Vehicle for Advancing Road Safety? 48, Econ. Polit. Wkly. 84, 84 (2013).

Cases cited:

  1. Mahtab Ahemad v. State of U.P.
  2. Kewal Semlani v. Commissioner of Bombay And Ors.
  3. Guru Hanuman society v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & others.
  4. Mustak Hussain Mehndi Hussain … v. State of Gujarat.
  5. P. Sanghi And Anr. v The State of Madhya Pradesh.
  6. Kumudben Sureshchandra v. Jamnagar Municipal Corporation.
  7. D.M.C. v. Shri Chandra kishore aggarwal.

Report cited:

  1. Draft Guideline on the provision of Speed Breakers for Control of Vehicular speed on minor Roads.

Statute cited:

  1. Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.
  2. Gujarat Municipalities Act.
  3. Tamil Nadu Municipalities Act.

Constitution cited:

  1. Indian Constitution.

Data cited:

  1. Indiastat data on Total number of road accidents and persons killed due to speed breakers in India (2012 to 2015).

Online sources:

  1. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/Gc4PErSiXgyht4MrplPZEL/Speedbreakers-take-nine-lives-a-day-Parliament-told.html
  2. http://www.rdso.indianrailways.gov.in/works/uploads/File/WKS-G-10.pdf
  3. http://ijaerd.com/papers/finished_papers/A%20study%20on%20Speed%20Breakers-IJAERDV04I0363450.pdf
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299821271_Real_time_detection_of_speed_breakers_and_warning_system_for_on-road_drivers
  5. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/speedbreakers-kill-they-cause-30-crashes-and-9-deaths-a-day/articleshow/59209813.cms
  6. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/hc-seeks-info-on-speed-breakers-in-city/articleshow/63291198.cms
  7. https://lawgic.info/law-speed-breakers-speed-humps-in-india/
  8. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/speed-breakers-slowing-down-but-at-what-cost/article19358936.ece
  9. https://www.thebetterindia.com/132139/speed-breakers-dangerous-for-human-lives/
  10. https://thelibraryofcivilengineer.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/irc-99-1988-tentative-guidelines-on-the-provision-of-speed-breakers-for-control-of-vehicular-speeds-on-minor-roads.pdf
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319109147_Usage_and_impacts_of_speed_humps_on_vehicles_A_review
  12. https://democracy.rochdale.gov.uk/documents/s19166/Whittaker%20Moss%20-%20Appendix%20C.pdf https://ezproxy.svkm.ac.in:2073/table/crime-and-law-data/6/road-accidents/17897/990630/data.aspx

[1] S Sundar and Akshima T Ghate, Accidents & Road Safety: Not High on Government’s Agenda, 48 Econ. Polit. Wkly. 77, 77 (2013).

[2] Jyotika Sood, Speed breakers take nine lives a day, parliament told, LAW MINT (Jul 20, 2017, 08:33 PM), https://www.livemint.com/Politics/Gc4PErSiXgyht4MrplPZEL/Speedbreakers-take-nine-lives-a-day-Parliament-told.html.

[3] Rayomand Engineer, Unscientific Speed-Breakers Can Kill: Here’s What Needs to Change Immediately, THE BITTER INDIA (Feb 22, 2018, 07:29PM), https://www.thebetterindia.com/132139/speed-breakers-dangerous-for-human-lives/.

[4] Sood, supra note 01.

[5] Sood, supra note 01.

[6] Ministry of Railways, Draft Guideline on the provision of Speed Breakers for Control of Vehicular speed on minor Roads, Report no. RDSO/WKS/2016/1, (2016).

[7] Id.

[8]IRC: 99-1998, Tentative Guidelines on the Provision of Speed Breakers for Control of Vehicular Speeds on Minor Road, INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, https://thelibraryofcivilengineer.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/irc-99-1988-tentative-guidelines-on-the-provision-of-speed-breakers-for-control-of-vehicular-speeds-on-minor-roads.pdf.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11]Origin of the Indian Road Congress, INDIAN ROAD CONGRESS (Nov. 03, 2015), http://www.irc.nic.in/index1.aspx?lsid=150&lev=2&lid=156&langid=1.

[12] Mahtab Ahemad v. State of U.P., WC/ NO. 43483 (2010).

[13] Kewal Semlani v Commissioner of Bombay And Ors, 2004 (4) BomCR 25.

[14] Guru Hanuman society v Govt. of NCT of Delhi & others, W.P.(C) NO. 104/2015.

[15] Mustak Hussain Mehndi Hussain v State of Gujarat, C/WPIL/170/2017.

[16] D. Mohan, “Road safety in less-motorized environments: Future concerns,” International Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 31 (3), pp. 527–532, 2002.

[17] D. M. Chan, “Who global status report on road safety 2013,” World Health Organization, Tech. Rep., 2013

[18] Dipak k Dash, Speed reaker kills: they cause 30 crashes and 9 deaths a day, Times of India, (Jun. 19, 2017, 10:11 AM), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/speedbreakers-kill-they-cause-30-crashes-and-9-deaths-a-day/articleshow/59209813.cms

[19] Roger W. Lawson, The Objections to Speed Humps (Submission to the London Assembly), Bromley Borough Roads Action (Oct. 16, 2003), https://democracy.rochdale.gov.uk/documents/s19166/Whittaker%20Moss%20-%20Appendix%20C.pdf.

[20] Id.

[21] Mitul Patel & Prof. (Dr.) P. J. Gundaliya, A study on Speed Breakers 04 IJAERD 368, 368-372 (2017).

[22] Sanjeev Shami, Road Traffic Safety: Cost of Government Neglect, 40, Econ. Polit. Wkly. 1598, 1601 (2005).

[23] J. P. Sanghi And Anr. v The State of Madhya Pradesh, (1984) 2 ACC 194.

[24] Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, Act of Parliament, 1988 (India).

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Gujarat Municipalities Act, 1963, Act of State Legislature, 1963.

[28] Tamil Nadu Municipalities Act, 1920, Act of State Legislature, 1920.

[29] INDIA CONST. art. 243(W).

[30] INDIA CONST. sch. 12.

[31] Kumudben Sureshchandra v. Jamnagar Municipal Corporation, (1997) 1 GLH 491 (India).

[32] N.D.M.C. v Shri Chandra kishore aggarwal, (2011) SCC OnLine Del 2381.

[33] Girish Agarwal, Is Public Interest Litigation an Appropriate Vehicle for Advancing Road Safety?, 48, Econ. Polit. Wkly. 84, 84 (2013).

[34] Patel & Gundaliya, supra note 16.

One thought on “Improper speed humps: Causing casualties, revealing arbitrariness

  1. it is very well written and an eye opening essay on a very crucial issue relating to life of persons travelling on roads.in view of judgements cited the central governments should enact rules under road safety or motor vehicles act immediately.

    Like

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