No limit to speeding
In a country where 1.54 lakh die on roads annually, increased speed limits only threaten more lives
During the 1980s, North India was in the grip of the Himalayan Rally fever. It was the only international sports event in India. We had entries from the USA, England, Hong Kong, Africa and half a dozen European countries. So what if the government of India did not recognise rallying s as a sport!
One year, there was an entry from England. The service manager, John Something, had prepared one of the cars. John also ran a school for rallyists. We got to know each other quite well. When the rally got over, after prize distribution, we settled down for dinner. John had become a diehard kebab and biryani addict. It was a very informal atmosphere and I popped the question that had been loafing around my skull for the last few days.
“What did you think of the event, the organisation, the drivers, preparation of cars,” and a lot more, I asked.
John was very honest. Some of his remarks were extremely flattering, others hurt. He was all praise for the terrain and the routing. The road book was world class as was the organisation, he said. That was thanks to Nazir Hoosein, who ran the event with clockwork precision.
“The cars were poorly prepared. The drivers had no knowledge of driving, cornering, of handling speed,” said John.
“Indians have been catapulted from the bullock-cart age to the age of super cars”. This hurt but it was true. Every driver was a good personal friend, keen rallyist, genuinely interested in the sport, but yes, the finer points eluded us.
No surprise here. The Himalayan Rally was a first time experience for most North Indian drivers. Most entrants had bought a car, had it prepared and had come to ‘play the rally’! They had no knowledge of rules, regulations or how to read a road book. “They know how to step on the accelerator, beyond that nothing!” said John.
Speed without control is deadly. And that is exactly what we are facing on our roads today. Any car today is capable of super speeds of 180-200 kmph. And the government has seen fit to raise the speed limits on Expressways to 120 kmph from 100 kmph and 100 kmph from 80 kmph on National Highways. This is a sure recipe to kill more people on our roads. Remember the old saying, ‘speed thrills but kills’.
Raising the speed limit will have the opposite effect. A youngster, first-time car owner has a fast car, an open road and, for sure, a couple of drinks. He picked up a bottle while refuelling. And a higher speed limit. This is the equivalent of ‘pagal ke haath me talwar!’ Other than reading the Owner’s Manual you must read The Motor Vehicles Act.
Here is why: Rule on use of seat belts.
Sub-Rule (3) Rule 138 of The Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 states, “In a motor vehicle in which seat-belts have been provided sub-rule (1) of Rule 125 or Rule 125 A, as the case may be, it shall be insured that the driver and the person seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing seats, as the case maybe, wear seat-belts while the vehicle is in motion”.
No mention of side facing seats in seven-seater SUVs.