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Friday, December 12, 2014

Speed breakers or Life breakers?

Speed breakers are raised areas of pavement designed to slow down drivers. Although they can improve safety, they have many drawbacks. The process of slowing and diverting traffic is often called traffic calming.

Speed Humps
Speed humps differ from speed bumps.
Speed Bumps
Speed bumps are 3-4 inches high and 1-3 feet long and have typically been used in parking lots and on private roads. To pass over speed bumps without doing damage to the vehicle or causing discomfort, the driver must slow down almost to a complete stop. The effects of speed bumps are diminished by passing over them at excessive speeds in a vehicle with loose suspension.

Speed humps are 3-4 inches high and 12-22 feet long. They are found on residential roadways. To avoid driver discomfort, the driver slows to a speed of 15-20 mph. Unlike speed bumps, at excessive speeds, the effects of speed humps are increased to the point of jolting both the driver and their cargo.

The procedure for installation begins with the residents’ request and continues with traffic engineering studies to determine the need for speed humps. These studies include but are not limited to: safe sight distance, pedestrian studies, vehicle classification, traffic count, and average speed. Current land use, school routes, "as built" plans, other control devices, and stop sign compliance should also be examined.

If it is determined that speed humps are the best solution for a roadway, then the installation can begin. The humps installed should follow the design criteria, have accompanying warning signs and be painted with a pattern that makes them visible to drivers and provide a safe and reasonable sight distance.

If designed, installed, and maintained properly, speed humps can be a safe, effective method of reducing vehicle speeds through residential areas.

To be effective along a section of roadway, speed humps should be placed in series at 200-600 feet intervals when considering the geometries of the roadway.

As per the Indian Road Congress (IRC) specifications, the central height of humps should be 10-12 cm. Their shape should be a parabola and should have 3.5 metres in width and length should be the same as the road width.

The list of drawbacks could go on and on if the breakers are not made with the correct specifications.

To name a few drawbacks......

  • If improperly lit, they could potentially cause fatalities.
  • They are damaging to the spine, to say the least.
  • The constant wear and tear of vehicles could be another big disadvantage.

A very interesting use of these breakers that hasn't been well utilized is:

A large amount of energy is generated at the speed breakers through friction, every time a vehicle passes over it.

This Mechanical energy is then converted to Electrical which can be used for charging batteries and to light up the streets, etc.

The existing source of energy such as coal, oil, etc may not be adequate to meet the ever increasing energy demands. These conventional sources of energy are also depleting and may be exhausted.
This project is a step to the path of exploring the possibilities of energy from several non- conventional energy sources.

Motivated by the activities undertaken by our leading dailies, I decided to chart one such myself. I travelled the highly congested stretch starting from Mazgaon circle upto JJ Hospital signal, via Noor Baug. It is a distance of a mere 1.3 km but the number, shapes and distances between speed breakers installed on this stretch is appalling.

Within 100 mts
100 mts
300 mts
400 mts
450 mts
500 mts
600 mts
900 mts
1000 mts
1050 mts
1100 mts

This may be a similar plight on many other roads but it is upto the local authorities to take up these tasks and ensure corrective action before we witness any casualties.

"Yes Officer, I did see the 'speed limit' sign, I just didn't see you."


  1. These speed breakers are pathetic. The municipality should realise that it is no use concretising the roads if they are going to put such ugly, inconvenient and dangerous speed breakers!!
    This blog should go viral.

  2. The municipality should realise that it is no use concretising the roads.They should see gujrat roads are so good maintain they should maintain mumbai road also .

  3. I agree with Dr Baldiwala that indeed speed breakers that are newly made at short distances are indeed a nuisance as no uniformity too in their makings ....some are high ...low or the roads just cut to break down the speeds ....

  4. I agree with Dr Baldiwala for the nuisance of so many speed breakers at a short distance between two areas .....for they are not maintained and installed properly ....there is no uniformity in them some places its built high up n some low ..whereas at some points the roads are cut to form a speed breaker ...A speed breaker is used to avoid accidents but if like this it can become a reason to accident as many cannot control the speed or know the intense height of it

  5. What action can we take against the BMC for this? Anyone?

  6. Many of speed breakers are not visible to me while riding bike at evening time. Road engeneering on highway are really pathetic.