The traffic in Chennai has returned to the pre-pandemic levels with vehicles crawling in several arterial roads at peak hours. A study has found speeding of vehicles is very much an issue that needs to be addressed in the city.
The study, titled ‘Slowdown’, has highlighted the concerns of social activists and road safety experts over speeding and the need for revising the speed limits. The report was authored by researchers Varsha Vasuhe and Sumana Narayanan for Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG).
The report underscores that speeding is the main reason for several accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, and says the absence of evidence-based studies has meant that the true impact of the issue has not come out. Hence, the CAG researchers have done an evidence-based analysis by identifying 15 arterial roads and adopting the spot speed surveys of different categories of vehicles as against the limits allowed by the traffic norms. The spot surveys also took into consideration traffic infrastructure, including lane configurations, sight distance, obstructions, controlled intersections, presence of median and pedestrian facilities and the availability of electronic enforcement devices like signals.
Fifteen arterial roads were selected. The study was done on the stretches of Anna Salai, GNT Road, Anna Nagar 3rd Avenue, EVR Periyar Salai, Harrington Road, Choolaimedu High Road, Peters Road in Royapettah, Durgaibai Deshmukh Road in Adyar, Mount-Poonamallee High Road, GST Road and East Coast Road. Two- and four-wheelers were found to be the major offenders with speed limits ranging from 35 to 75 kilometres per hour (kmph). Autorickshaws and the light commercial vehicles touched a maximum of 60 kmph.
The GO issued by the Commissioner of Transport and Road Safety in 2003 had fixed the speed limit for autorickshaws at 25 kmph, for heavy vehicles at 35 kmph and light motor vehicles and two-wheelers at 40 kmph from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The study has underscored the need for the State government to double the penalties under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019. Furthermore, the speed limits have to be revised based on road width, traffic scenario and crash reports. The roads should be repaired, boards with warnings against speeding have to be erected and the traffic rules should be strictly enforced.
The study also wants the State Transport Authority and the traffic police to rope in residents’ welfare associations, youth welfare groups and companies to drive home the point that action by the traffic police for speeding is not harassment, but a measure to promote road safety.