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Old 25th June 2019, 10:02   #1
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Default Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Speed has been accepted as one of the important factors in crash severity. Simply put, higher your speed higher is the chance of a grievous injury in the event of a motor vehicle crash. In this regard, various agencies are using different measures to reduce speed (aka calm traffic) to reduce the number of fatalities. Some of the measures employed are:
  1. Legislation: Passing of relevant laws to ensure that motorists and vehicles adhere to safety standards. Some ongoing examples are Speed limit rules in MVAB (Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill) and Speed governors on commercial vehicles.
  2. Engineering: (This is the highlight of this post) Using different techniques to reduce the speed of vehicles. 'Engineering' as a traffic calming measure will be mentioned below.
  3. Enforcement: Using the police force to ensure that vehicles travel only below the speed limit and fining errant vehicles.
  4. Emergency: Treatment of crash victims to ensure no loss of life.
  5. Education: Teaching the community and society on the rules of the road and how to be safe on roads.

This post is a humble request to the Team-BHP community to help identify the various engineering measures that are used throughout the country to identify the best practices along with the bad (ineffective and dangerous) practices. Some examples are shown below.

Good Practice

Judicious use of Flexible Poles
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Flexible poles used to demarcate the curved portion of an intersection

Use of flexible poles to segregate traffic, especially at intersections so that vehicles are forced to slow down and it helps to enforce lane discipline. Such flexible poles are used in and around Kolkata and have been found to be effective in reducing crashes especially at locations with curves where vehicles tend to overtake blindly resulting in a head-on crash.

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Flexible poles along a curve with a gap for the intersection.

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Flexible poles to prevent vehicles from overtaking along a long blind curve along a built-up area.

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Flexible pole along a forest route to prevent blind overtaking.
Such poles also help reduce speed as vehicles do not have the luxury of using the adjacent lane for a sweeping turn.

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Flexible pole used in urban areas to prevent overtaking.

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Flexible poles at urban intersections.

Flexible poles do have the advantage of being a relatively safe measure to enforce lane discipline. Due to the apparent reduction in lane width, the vehicles tend to slow down. Personally, I think that flexible poles are highly effective, but currently, the material quality needs improvement as the poles are easily destroyed by a limited run-overs.


Bad Practices
There is no dearth in bad practices. While it is easy to blame the PWD for all the bad practices, in many cases, it has been observed that the PWD had no role to play! Case and example are the Plastic Bumps used all over West Bengal. These bumps are provided by the police and not PWD!!

That being said, some of the poor measures to reduce speed are:

Use of Police Barricades to slow traffic speed.
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Police barricades are generally used extensively (at-least in WB) and have become permanent fixtures on the road. The intention of the barricade is to create a chicane and hence reduce the speed of vehicles. However, in reality, the barricades are generally not visible) especially at night and become a safety hazard themselves.
Further, in many cases, it is also noted that the barricades are placed at the apex of a curve, furthering the complexity of the curve and the drivers do not anticipate such hazard on the road!! Overall, this is a very poor measure for reducing the speed of traffic, nevertheless, it is deployed (by the police) mainly due to the pressure by the community.

Plastic humps (aka Bumps)
Terrible engineering measure as the bumps gets torn off the road when heavy vehicles ply over it. In West Bengal, the plastic bumps are provided by the police. PWD is completely against such practice as it destroys the roads.
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Speed Breakers (Humps)
The IRC 99 (Indian Road Congress) does provide the design for humps, which, if followed, minimizes the journey discomfort at the designated speed. However, the reality is that the majority of humps in India are back breakers more than speed breakers. This is compounded when there are no advance warning signs and no marking on the humps!
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Sometimes multiple such back-breaking humps are provided!
The multiple backbreakers are provided along the Bally Bridge over the Hooghly River (Kolkata).

Other non-standard measures

Image is taken from Google
Some measures like the 3D Zebra Crossing, while an innovative method, will not help in speed reduction in the long term. The drivers will zip over them once they realize that it is only a painting on the road!

If you have seen such measures (good ones preferably) which effectively reduce the speed of the vehicle while simultaneously minimizes the journey discomfort, please do share it.

Disclaimer - The intention of this post is to create a discussion and a photo database which will help in developing speed policy guidelines to help relevant authorities (Police) in posting credible speed limits and engineers (PWD) in designing facilities for a safe and comfortable journey.
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Old 25th June 2019, 12:00   #2
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Default re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

And then we have these, in case somebody decides to overspeed on the sidewalk.

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Old 26th June 2019, 08:41   #3
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

As a driver, I can say these are the two most effective ways:

1. Speed cameras with steep fines, and these days, you can automate the entire process - related thread. All thanks to e-challans, each & every car on the Bandra-Worli Sealink maintains 80 kmph. Before the cameras were put up, cars would regularly do twice that speed on the Sealink!! It's quite a sight to see ALL cars cruise at exactly the same speed, as if in a convoy. Of course, news articles on 1-lakh rupee fines help too .

2. They might be old-school, but speed-breakers are still super-effective. For the sake of our cars & suspensions, just ensure they are marked properly . See what happened to this poor car after a hard landing - link to original post:
Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road-bmw2.jpg

Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road-bmw1.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 26th June 2019 at 08:44.
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Old 26th June 2019, 09:25   #4
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by jailbird_fynix View Post
And then we have these, in case somebody decides to overspeed on the sidewalk.
The level of incompetence and the sheer lack of supervision is appalling!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
As a driver, I can say these are the two most effective ways:

1. Speed cameras with steep fines, and these days, you can automate the entire process - related thread. All thanks to e-challans, each & every car on the Bandra-Worli Sealink maintains 80 kmph. Before the cameras were put up, cars would regularly do twice that speed on the Sealink!! It's quite a sight to see ALL cars cruise at exactly the same speed, as if in a convoy. Of course, news articles on 1-lakh rupee fines help too .
I completely agree with you. But one of the problems that have been observed by the enforcing agencies world over is that vehicles which tend to overspeed continue to overspeed while braking sharply to avoid the speed cameras! One way to overcome this is by observing the average speed of vehicles over a longer section of highway. For example, perhaps if there was one camera at the beginning of the Sealink and one at the end and fines are issues if you go over the speed limit as you exit the Sealink.
But I do not know of any such systems which are active! It would be interesting to observe the effect of such speed cameras on Indian highways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
2. They might be old-school, but speed-breakers are still super-effective. For the sake of our cars & suspensions, just ensure they are marked properly . See what happened to this poor car after a hard landing - link to original post
Wow! I knew that road marking on speed-breakers and advance warning signs are very important, but seeing the damage on the poor car has definitely raised my understanding to a whole new level!
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Old 26th June 2019, 09:50   #5
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Thank you for this excellent topic.

My views here will probably invite the wrath of my fellow motoring members. Speed and acceleration and associated contribution to accidents are a function of horse power. Do we need cars with 100 or 200 horse power? After all, all we are doing 95% of the time is to move our 75 or 80 kgs back side a few tens of kms a day in city traffic. Just a generation ago the Standard Herald was at a lordly 39hp, the Padmini claimed 44hp and the HM ambassador was a jot above that. As I look up my treasured Observers book of cars of 1974 here are some BHP figures that pop out:

The then latest hot hatch VW Golf positioned as a fast car for the young DINKS = 70 bhp
The ubiquitous VW Beetle = 44 bhp
One of France's marque mid-sized sedans the Peugot 304 = 65 bhp
Opel's top dog model the big sedan Opel Rekord Saloon = 97 bhp
Even the MG Midget, the baby everyday racer of their line up = 65 bhp
UK's Hillman Avenger Deluxe, their middle of line family sedan = 57 bhp
The Audi 100LS, equivalent of the A6 today = 100 bhp

Our car builders are giving us more than twice the bhp a car needs even for spirited driving and probably thrice what is needed for city driving. That is one of the root causes for our speed related accidents amongst other reasons.

Mind you these cars I've mentioned were not laggards. Young people then liked spirited cars as much as young people today. Of the list above the only car I've driven is the Opel Rekord Saloon owned by an uncle who let me jam the pedal twice - Lucknow-Kanpur and Delhi-Chandigarh. The girl could sprint.

That 2X or 3X the BHP under our bonnets is adding to our CO2 footprint.

PS: I don't practice what I preach.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 26th June 2019 at 09:53.
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Old 26th June 2019, 11:54   #6
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Driver's fault is what is mentioned as the cause in this report, speed could be one of such faults. But speed alone is not the problem, being able to get to places fast is important, we are not an economy that can afford to slow down.

I think we need to put in some systemic thinking here, it needs a huge overhaul. The need to travel is probably what needs to be addressed first.

I'm posting an article from Science Direct, the conclusion is this :

Quote:
"Many countries, particularly from developed world, have experienced sharp reduction in road traffic accidents and
fatalities over the past couple of decades by adopting a systems approach to road safety that emphasizes environment,
vehicle, and road user interventions, rather than only focusing on direct approaches aimed at changing the behavior of
road users. Although solutions for road safety problems in India may differ from those countries that have very high
rate of motorization, some basic principles would remain the same. These include, for example, good road design and
traffic management, improved vehicle standards, speed control, the use of seat belts and helmets, and the enforcement
of alcohol limits (Margie et al., 2004). Current efforts to address the problems of road safety are minimal in comparison
to what should be done."


Link : Source

Last edited by moralfibre : 26th June 2019 at 12:13. Reason: Formating post
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Old 26th June 2019, 12:04   #7
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

My two cents on this issue:

1. Agree with the point made by V.Narayan that the single-most effective method of controlling speed would be to place regulations on the manufacture, sales and distribution of cars with very high power. Another way to regulate would be to make Speed Governors mandatory.

2. When it comes to identifying breaches of speed limits - modern technology now makes it capable of translating image (Car Registration Number on the Number Plate) to text, and therefore the most ideal way to measure breaches of speed limit is to use a logically placed network of cameras which captures the timestamp at which the same car is passing different waypoints and calculate the average speed of the car between those waypoints. Due to the various fancy number plates this country has, we would obviously start with lower accuracy, but machine learning should allow for this accuracy to be improved over a long-enough test period before it is formally deployed.

3. I would also like to point out that while over-speeding is an issue, accidents themselves are a result of a combination of multiple factors. One of the biggest such factors - something I see all the time on the Mumbai Pune Expressway - is the sheer lack of lane discipline. We don't have lane discipline at signals, and even worse we don't have speed-based lane discipline on Expressways. Too often, cars switch lanes dangerously because heavy vehicles never move in the designated left lanes for meant for lower speeds.

4. Finally, coming to the actual speed limits themselves - I feel many of them are extremely unjust. Scientific research has prescribed speed limits as 85th percentile of speed in a stretch of the road. This number is calculated differently for different classes of vehicles and accordingly, the slow and fast lanes are designated. On most roads in India, the speed limit is stiflingly below this 85th percentile number. Expressways are at 80 km/h (not including ghat sections, of course), and some flyover stretches of the Eastern Expressway are at 40 km/h, for example. I feel this is a bit much. These artificially lower speed limits are automatic deterrents to safe, or within-limits driving, and need to be re-evaluated.

Last edited by moralfibre : 26th June 2019 at 12:12. Reason: Typo
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Old 26th June 2019, 12:09   #8
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

I think Indian cities have deployed a unique technology (not deliberately of course) to reduce the speed of vehicles on road.

Its called pollution. With pollution, the overall density of the air is higher, hence more drag, hence lower speeds. Also, add to it the special bumper benefit during winters called SMOG. The capital city is leading from the front on this.

Special thanks to RTOs, who have played a huge role in the success of this deployment by allowing rickshaws to run on kerosene, not enforcing PUC, among other innovative techniques.

We also need to appreciate the citizens who continue to ignore any call for car pooling, public transport usage and improper maintenance of cars.



But on a serious note, in Mumbai, except on the sea-link and a small patch on WE, EE, Eastern Freeway, there are hardly any patches where speeding is possible above 80. The problem is people drive at 40 where anything above 20 is risky, especially bikers.
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Old 26th June 2019, 12:31   #9
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosfactor View Post
...... Although solutions for road safety problems in India may differ from those countries that have very high
rate of motorization, some basic principles would remain the same. These include, for example, good road design and
traffic management, improved vehicle standards, speed control, the use of seat belts and helmets, and the enforcement
of alcohol limits (Margie et al., 2004).
Link :
https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...52146517307913
The thing is, speed control and awareness regarding the use of belts and helmets are very generational. If the government (and RTO) suddenly become aware of their responsibility and authority, the next generation of drivers will learn to obey the rules, become safe drivers and respect the rule of law. Because they will only get their driving licence after passing a stringent theory course and practical course. This will create a generation of drivers that are aware of their responsibility and they will slowly replace the older ones. It will take about 100-130 years (Or 1.5-2 generations) to majorly phase out the "old school" thinking and embed the "new school" thinking.

Vehicle standards is very OEM dependent because the OEM has to be aware of their corporate responsibility in making the Indian roads safer for the road users. Cars have to be made to more stringent safety standards and the government and ARAI have to be more demanding of this. So this is also a generational issue. Although an automotive generation is usually about 10-12 years.

These two are enforceable. But road design, city planning and traffic management is simply impossible to change because the infrastructure is already in place. Thanks to those planners who, in the years after the independence, thought that infrastructure needed no long term planning. Even current highway designers design highways that pass through a village and/or town where 100s of road users cross the road at their will. Livestocks are usually left free to roam. How do you change this?

I think we live in a vicious circle. We cant improve the infrastructure because there are simply too many vehicles. And we cant change or adopt any major road safety regulation because the infrastructure and planning is bad. If planning and long term future was difficult to foresee when the population was 400m, how are they going to change when the population has grown to more than 3x that amount?
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Old 26th June 2019, 12:44   #10
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Since people in developed countries follow rules mostly, there has been no smart ways to control the speed.

In our country, only speed humps and rumble strips can control the speed. One way to alert to speed humps could be Road Powered systems that convert kinetic energy to electric power. These can atleast light up the humps when cars are approaching them. Will be really useful to warn about the humps. This is my biggest concern especially in Bengaluru

Once we move to autonomous cars, the cars can get all the information automatically and drive accordingly. We need to something right now for our cities. The crash mitigation systems can be enhanced to read things from roads (all the time powered by car's kinetic energy) and apply brakes. But needs some standardization for it to work and also for car makers to buy into it.

Last edited by srishiva : 26th June 2019 at 12:46.
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Old 26th June 2019, 16:15   #11
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

I beg to differ on this topic.

While speed does add to the intensity of the accident, one cannot assume that only reducing speed will be a solution to the accident woes of this country. According to my observations, more often than not, accidents happen due to lack of awareness and LACK OF SPEED !

I'll explain the second point further with an example:
How many times you have seen a vehicle entering a major road from a side lane and proceeding to accelerate at the most leisurely pace possible?
Usually, this vehicle has entered without waiting for the correct time to enter, i.e. without bothering about some other vehicle travelling at a higher speed (not speeding) along the main road. This situation then requires the vehicle on the main road to urgently slow down, raising the possibility of rear-ending, or for it to change lanes abruptly, which again raises the possibility of an accident.
In this scenario, a vehicle entering a major road should accelerate QUICKLY. But that is seen as bad driving in the mental rulebook of India.
Similarly, i can point out many scenarios where high speed is not usually an issue, but low speed is.

This is just one scenario. There are multiple such scenarios. We need right of way rules and adherences, we need better driver awareness. And most of all, we need better road design. I have innumerable examples of how shoddy roads design, road works, large stones from previous road works, etc. are huge hazards.

As a country, we are obsessed with 'speed causes accidents'. In fact i would say, we as a country drive really slowly anyways because we love 'kitna deti hai'. We have accidents due to a lot of other factors which have nothing to do with speeding.

The reason that we are obsessed with speed is because, a) the police always assume that car was speeding, and b) journalists of this country reporting about accidents ONLY talk about speed. Absurd speed assumptions are thrown around when the accompanying pictures of the accident don't justify those speeds. This has etched in our collective psyche that its 'only speeding causes accidents'.

Catching 'speeding' cars is a low hanging fruit. NO ONE is talking about the fundamental problems of roads and road users in India. It is a sad state of affairs.
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Old 26th June 2019, 16:28   #12
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriverWanderer View Post
Good Practice

Judicious use of Flexible Poles
The focus of this thread seems to be recommending 'Flexible Poles' for speed reduction. Isn't those used for ensuring lane-discipline?

There are plenty of curves on our roads and probably in one in million case, the driver fails to negotiate the curve due to excess speed. Do the flexible poles help in that particular case?
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Old 26th June 2019, 16:54   #13
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

What a waste of taxpayer's money!

When a total imbecile can get a driving license, drive a vehicle without legit papers, talk on the phone while driving, get away from any challan by bribing cops then let the poor fellow overspeed also.

I'm astonished at the sheer stupidity of law makers and enforcers when they start attacking the symptoms of a problem instead of dealing with the root cause.

Us thick skinned Indians won't mend our way unless there's a significant attack on our health or wealth. For few things we need the '100 lashes sentence' kind of rule instead of puny fines or better yet, throw folks in jail for repeated offences that endangers other lives. You'd be surprised how quick us Indians are at adapting.

Last edited by fine69 : 26th June 2019 at 16:56.
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Old 26th June 2019, 16:58   #14
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

As far as engineering solutions go, with the advent of connected vehicles I think it's only a matter of time before the vehicles also connect with the road infrastructure and the road itself dictates the maximum speed allowed for a given stretch for a given time.
We have the required technology already, just needs policy and implementation.
After that, as V. Narayan Sir mentioned, we'd probably be happy halving or even Quartering our vehicles' performance figures, because what's the point.
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Old 26th June 2019, 18:50   #15
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Default Re: Engineering solutions to reduce the speed of vehicles on the road

My vote goes for speed breakers aka speed bumps. They are very effective but two things bother me.

1. In some cases when you approach a speed bump. there are no signs to warn you. Especially during night drives they just show up like a Ninja in the dark.

2. There are no engineering in Indian speed bumps. Every engineering technique follow some standard but in speed bumps there are no standard rules. Some speed bumps are designed like a speed bump and some are like mini mount everest. Unless government makes a standard for speed bumps and implement it, these uneven speed bump always bothers people who use a car with low ground clearance
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