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Old 16th June 2009, 02:01   #1
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Default Of speed limits and the responsible driver

I have often thought about this earlier and, recently, after I got a speeding ticket for doing 95 kph on a four lane (divided) NH-2, this thought has been revolving around my head.

We claim to be (and try to be) responsible drivers and not do something illegal. And yet, there are countless occassions when, conditions permitting, we flout one of the basic traffic safety rules- speed limits.

Mind you, I am not saying that we are doing it by exposing ourselves and others to danger (to life and limb and repair costs). As I said, I hope we choose our speeds responsibly, keeping in view the condition and capabilities of our vehicles as well.

Without taking any names, I am almost sure, everyone, including myself, has driven many, many times well beyond the speed limits. To the best of my knowledge even some of the best roads in the country have speed limits of 90 kph or 100 kph. Still it is common to find discussions about "XYZ is rock steady at 160 (or even 190!) kmph". Equally common is the pride with which we photograph speedometer needles showing these speeds and post them. I am not sure how many of these photographs were taken on tracks. I have a feeling a huge majority were taken on public roads.

Some speed limits feel silly and impractical. On the Ring Road in Delhi, I am at 1600 RPM on fourth gear when I have already reached the speed limit of 50 kph. Traffic permitting, 80 kph seems possible and even safe at times. I can't even get into overdrive and reduce fuel consumption further. Maybe some other cars can do so and I should have bought one of those.

I am not defending the common moron on the roads who can kill himself and others regardless of whether I am above or below the speed limits. Considering the pathetic situation of our roads and highways, it is only natural for us to try and go fast whenever we get the opportunity.

But we don't jump red lights so easily, we don't drive on the wrong side of the road, we try to keep our Registration papers clean and updated and our PUCs done. But, why do we flout this one so easily?

Simply because they are impractical? Or because that's the least challaned of all offences? Or because we expect better roads and highways with better traffic and till then we will keep speeding to save up the time lost because of these issues?

To generalise for almost 48,000 members on TBHP is difficult, and I don't wish to offend anyone. What do you feel?

Last edited by architect : 16th June 2009 at 02:03.
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Old 16th June 2009, 08:15   #2
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Confession: I never followed any official speed limit when I was driving in India. I always followed my own speed limit depending on the road condition, the traffic, the weather and the time of the day. But I always made sure that I drove at sane speeds.

If there is a speed limit of 80 kmph on our highways, provide us with a highway where we can drive at 80 kmph for at least 10 minutes. If the road surface is good, then we have the other speed 'breakers' (mopeds, trucks, carts, etc on the fast lanes). Although enforcing speed limits is a task that the cops have to perform, there are other equally bad violations which have to clamped down (driving on the wrong side, jumping reds, etc). This could go on to be a pretty long rant, but everyone here pretty much knows what I am thinking.

In simple words, I believe that the single most important factor that contributes to over speeding is the poor infrastructure, followed by the other 'law abiding' road users . I usually exceed the speed limit to make up time lost negotiating the craters on the roads and praying for trucks traveling at 20 kmph to get off the passing lane.

P.S: The guys photographing their speedos showing 160/180/200 - I really want to know what you guys are trying to prove. That your car can really go that fast? Or that you are willing to take a gamble on life?
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Old 16th June 2009, 08:43   #3
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Now here is something that I have observed. We humans have a tendency to break rules. Not only in India, I have seen many times in the US, people do speed over +10 or +15 mph over the prescribed speed limit. And depending on the state in which you are driving, you either get away with it or get pulled over.

Having said this, majority of the people in the US do follow the rules for a simple reason - when they get caught, they are penalized and that would cost them dearly.

Coming to India and myself, I try and drive within the safe limits that I am comfortable with, wherein I feel that I can control the car. Moreover, I do drive to ensure that I get good mileage on highways and that is important to me as well.

People do speed on the highways to display their mean machines or their machoism, but am sure that they do pay a price sometime or the other.
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Old 16th June 2009, 08:58   #4
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Can somebody give me one reason why to obey speed limits ? Sounds absurd, right ? Well that is how I feel when without any genuine reason I have to give way for a person traveling in car with a " VIP " lights on its top.

1) How many of those who drive on Indian roads even know what they are driving ?

2) How many people have passed the test for driving car ? Its easy to drive car for 50 mtrs in max second gear. They get license and raise hell on road.

3) Why the speed limits are so low and impractical ? I understand that this is to prevent accidents, but we have to put this up because we have drivers that are not properly educated.

4) The general roads in city and at other places are so bad that even for once if we see a proper road i.e. some road really worthy of the tag " Road ", we naturally tend to drive faster.

The core of the matter, I believe, is the mentality. We dont get the base pillar right and then expect the whole building to stand tall ? This is not possible. Speed limits have to be good enough as the highways are build for reducing travel time.
The problem is this , we have not educated drivers, so to control them speed limits come up. But those who know how to drive will suffer.
Speed limits for me atleast are useless and of no use practically.

OT : Well, for the record, in city driving itself, in my case, the top speeds are 90 for bike, 90 for 800 and 90 for Baleno. For highway, 110 for M800, 160+ for Baleno.
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Old 16th June 2009, 09:07   #5
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[quote=architect;1348333]Some speed limits feel silly and impractical.quote]

This is only individual perceptions. the road planners and traffic regulators/police generally decide the speedlimits on several aspects.

1. condition of the road viz. number of lanes, surface conditions, side baricades etc.
2. design of the road, slopes, gradients, curves etc
3. weather conditions : visibility, temperature etc
4. capability of the vehicles
5. pedestrian traffic likely to be on the road
6. animal traffic likely to be on the road
7. slow moving vehicles : 2/3 wheelers, carts, tracktors, trucks etc
8. Behavior of the drivers (tendency to drive fast, accident rates etc)
9. etc, etc

if any one is considering just because he has a great car capable of doing 190KMPH and drive at that speed, then that might result is consequences that are beyond control of the driver.

hence wise people say :
Love thy car, but love yourself and your family more
Drive safe within speed limits and be considerate of others on the road
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Old 16th June 2009, 09:53   #6
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This is a bit distressing.

Would we cheat, simply because that is more convenient for us?

Would we beat up somebody, simply because we have a better built body?

Would we kill somebody, simply because that will be one less person to share the natural resources with?


Whay should obeying the speed limits be any different?

"Speed limits ought to be set higher" is one issue; obeying the speed limits as they are is a different issue.

If we believe, like one certain MK Gandhi that law ought to be different, and we prefer to behave as if the law was in accordance with our ideals, we should, like him, be happy to face the consequences.

If you believe that the speed limit ought to be higher, and you and your vehicle are capable of going faster, and the limit is set absurdly low, ask for the maximum possible fine. That is what that chap called M K Gandhi used to do when he was caught breaking the law.
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Old 16th June 2009, 11:09   #7
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Well I feel if authorities are implementing/setting anything then they should always have ways to keep up with that.

For example if they have speed limits then they should have speed cameras everywhere and should challan each and every individual there and then. There was this speed gun which was planted permanently on a pole near LSR college in Delhi and I wasnt aware of this, the particular road had a speed limit of 50 kmph and you know what I received 3 paper challans in post for 3 consecutive dates for speeds of 52kmph, 57kmph and 61kmph. I had to pay for challans thats one thing, but I was like WOW, just fantastic that is how it should be.

And my friends its not that the problem is in India, its every where. A year back when I was in UK, there people are well aware of where the cameras are and when they are out of the cameras range they just speed up, thats a human block and non of us can change it.

A guy who is spending more, for a more powerful engine, will want to drive it fast and reach destination faster. We will not want to be in world where we have restricted speed limits and the guy in M800 and in AUDI A8 are doing same speeds on highways. Why the hell would somebody then buy a powerful expensive engine???

So these speed limits can be set just strictly for cities and are to backed up with equipments which keep it checked.
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Old 16th June 2009, 11:32   #8
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We are talking about obeying speed limits. Have you ever thought that obeying a speed limit which makes no sense at all can actually cause probelms? The speed limits in many roads in India makes no sense at all.
I have seen speed limits like 35 Kmph on 4 laned highways, where everyone normally would drive at aroung 60 or 70 Kmph. If you try to be the nice responsible citizen by driving at 35 Kmph on that road, you may get hit from behind.

The best thing you can do is not to follow the speed limit exactly as it is specified, but to follow the croud. If you drive with almost the same speed as most of the other cars are moving, chances of an accident is minimized. In this way, you may even follow the speed limit automatically - I am writing this from my own experience on driving through the autobahn. Even thoguh most of the straight stretches in autobahn have no speed limits, some parts do have. I was finding it difficult initially to keep in mind the current speed limit and adhere to that. During the course of time, I learned that just by driving at a speed in which most of the drivers around you are driving, you automatically follow the speed limit. Once I even got a speeding ticket just becuase I cut loose and drove faster, I could only realize that I broke the speed limit when I saw the huge flash.

Coming back to Indian highways, there are this group of new drivers who does not know how to drive through a high way at all. For them, the maximum speed is 40 Kmph - no matter whether it is a busy street or an open highway. There were countless number of times I saw many cars getting stuck behind these slow crawlers in 2 laned highways, like the NH47 in Kerala. People behind sometimes will get really frustrated and may even try a riskier overtaking causing an accident. Yes, slow drivers also cause accidents - to others in most cases.

The drivnig schools here doesn't teach a learner how to properly accelerate through gears. All they teach is, shift to second when the car starts moving, and then shift to a higher gear when the vehicle gains more and more speed - as if it automatically happens and not controlled by the gas pedal. In essence, a new driver will only be someone who knows how to move the car, and will not be a 'smart driver'.

Last edited by clevermax : 16th June 2009 at 11:36.
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Old 16th June 2009, 11:56   #9
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I don't think following speed limits on Indian rods is feasible because,
  • Speed limits in most of the cases are absurd, unscientific and arbitrary. I have seen speed limits of 25kmph on two lane highways
  • Majority of the drivers on our roads are unaware of the concept of speed limits. I will be putting myself in danger if I don't follow the flow of traffic. If I am at 40kmph on a highway, the driver behind me is bound to be irritated and will try crazy maneuvers to overtake me.
  • Lastly, the penalty for not following the speed limit is negligible. I have been stopped only once in the last one year for speeding and a fine of 300 works out to less than a Rupee per day
Having said that, I by no means am advocating reckless driving or speeding for the sake of speeding. All I am saying is that be safe and follow the traffic flow. Driving too slow is as dangerous as driving too fast on our roads and highways.
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Old 16th June 2009, 12:16   #10
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be the change you want to see.

speeding is just one in a row of traffic violations that we commit daily. EX: in cities it's common to jump the red light at night time.

What we need to change immeadieately is the whole messed up RTO system.

PS: I found this on youtube. the guy films traffic violations in Delhi and posts their videos + number plates on youtube.

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Old 16th June 2009, 12:53   #11
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What we fail to understand is that traffic regulations are meant to help everybody on the road, be it pedestrians or cars. There is a reason why speed limits exist even in developed countries with butter smooth roads and powerful cars.

Ideal traffic would be when everyone moves at equal speed. Speed limits ensure that traffic moves at near or same speed. Accidents are accidents and can happen anytime, somebody drives on the wrong lane or somebody just dozes off. Speed limits ensure that the fatality rates are reduced in case of an accident.

For guys who enjoy high speed driving, you are free to practise on private roads or race tracks. But why endanger other people on the road for no fault of theirs? And for people who find 50 kmph inside city limits to be unreasonable I think they should look at other developed countries first. I am sure all of us would enjoy city driving then.
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Old 16th June 2009, 12:59   #12
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An interesting set of responses. Here's what I feel:

1. There are an equally large number of silly rules about other things, like paying substantial amount of money and undergoing substantial trouble to transfer registration from one state to another. We (generally) don't flout these. There are equally stupid rules in Income Tax and any other departments which we follow.

2. Speed limits are determined (generally) keeping the "design speed" of the road in mind along with other factors. Transport Planning and Road design is a huge subject in itself. Even designing the basic intersection of a township is fairly complex task. They are not a joke. NHAI fixes limits on some scientific principles. I am not talking of an arbitrary signage put up at places.

3. At the end of the day, we can't flout all rules because we find them silly. And how come we become obedient the moment enforcement becomes stricter? Just because, as someone pointed out, it's only Rs 1/- per day if you get caught once a year?

4. For improvement of road conditions and attitude of users, will even a 100 years be enough? And till then, will we continue flouting speed limits?

I don't intend to sound holier-than-thou. I am equally guilty and have touched 140 kph on my car on an expressway with an 80 kph limit. I am just curious as to what TBHPians think.
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Old 16th June 2009, 14:03   #13
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Interesting thread. I try to adhere to speed limits wherever I can. I believe there is a lot of science that goes in deciding the speed limit. I do find sometimes the speed limit is abnormally low. I do flout the speed limit at times. I do 60 kmph on 50kmph W.E Highway Mumbai. I do 50kmph on 40kmph fly overs. But I do not do 100 on a 60 kmph road.

My, soon to be 6 year old daughter, reads all road signs and tell me if I am going faster than prescribed limit. She asks me the speed every now and then when we drive in city. This has made me even more conscious about following the limit.

On expressway or 4lane highways, I do between 80 and 100 kmph. I know that is beyond the limit prescribed. At my speeds, I remain, one of the slower drivers on those roads. I do not break the limits to challange anyone or mock the limits. I do it when I am made to feel I am going much slower than rest of traffic. I do it when I feel (now this is relative) that it is very very safe to go a little (again relative) faster than the limit.

Not a good habit. But I do stop on signals even if I am the only one at the crossing in the dead of the night.
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Old 16th June 2009, 14:55   #14
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The new roads, atleast GQ ones are designed for highspeed traffic, except controlling access which has caused problems and accidents. I have never seen a speed limit board in NH4 in karnataka side. Have seen 80km at some places in Maharashtra and 50km nearKohlapur. Does that mean we should not cross 80kmph through out NH4 stretch? That will be asking too much. In fact NHAI itself has recommended a speedlimit of 120kmph on new access controlled expressways.

When ever we are near towns/villages, automatically we slowdown to reasonable speeds and many times within the prescribed limits. Beyond that it really does not help to stick to ludicurous limits of 80kmph on a stretch designed for doing 120 kmph just because some wretched "Babu" decided to do so.

I have driven in Autostradas of Italy. They specify a speed limit and when that limit ends they put a board that the previous limit no longer applies. So, if you are near a town, you see a board setting the limit to 60kmph and once you cross, there is a signbaord saying old speed limit no longer applies. That tells clearly what the limit is. A blanket limit of 80kmph is arbitrary and way too below the designed capabilites of new GQs and highways.

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Old 16th June 2009, 15:24   #15
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I maintain 90-100 on highways, give way to faster vehicles, stick to one lane, keep all 4 wheels within a single lane unlike certain idiots who drive with 2 wheels in one lane and 2 wheels in another. I DEFEND my lane quite furiously. I never jump a red light although i've jumped 1 or 2 following BMTC buses.

I'm ok with higher speeds (what with those IDIOTIC and non-practical speed limits) on highways. Speed should be based on NOT just the road surface but factors like traffic, residential area, weather, time of the day etc. A mature / sensible driver will automatically slow down from 120 to 60 or lower when the highway passes through crowded areas.
What i'm NOT OK is with idiots driving at 40kmph on roads (for example Ramamurthy Nagar main road) bustling with traffic, people and through narrow residential areas. These morons think that they're driving at only 40kmph!

We have idiots driving at 40kmph within our apartment premises with the kids running around. Can anyone surpass that?

Last edited by Torqy : 16th June 2009 at 15:33.
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