Of the various cities that I have been too, somehow to me Pune seems to top the list of speed breakers. There seems to be some specific liking for this object by our local municipal corporation and in some roads they really abound, almost like one speed breaker per house.
The purpose for this object is good. It helps break the speed and ensures that people don’t over speed in certain areas where the possibilities of accidents can be high. However these get constructed with little regard to this basic rule and in many cases are themselves the reason for accidents.
Personally I believe that they aren’t really required. If people follow proper traffic rules, there is actually hardly a need for something like a speed breaker. And then given the condition of some of our roads, there again is little need for speed breakers, given the various pot holes that exist on the road anyway. But I guess our highly zealous corporation employees go purely by the rule book. It defines a speed breaker as an object protruding up from the surface of the road, forcing vehicles to slow down as they drive over it. Pot holes, being inverted in their design, don’t pass this definition and hence don’t count.
Additionally, speed breakers, hinder free movement of traffic and the slowdown in peak hours can cause heavy traffic jams. Some speed breakers, have lost their paint and hence tend to appear suddenly on the road, thus actually causing a threat to the safety of those driving. Finally, the frequent slow down, causes not only unwanted wear and tear of our vehicles, but also causes vehicles to consume more petrol/diesel. A vehicle running at a constant speed for long distance is much more fuel efficient than one that runs in jerks, due to the countless speed breakers it has navigate over in the journey.
If a speed breaker had a standard design, things could still be tolerable, but it seems that every engineer who gets assigned the task of constructing one, wants to make sure that his/her work stands apart from the others. That said there a few typical kinds of breakers you will see on the road. These are (the names used below aren’t official names, but just the way I like to call them)
The Plateau: These breakers rise above the surface of the road, then extend parallel to the road for 2-3 feet and then fall back. Driving on this gives a momentary elevated feeling to the driver. These seem to be designed keeping in mind that why should only vehicles drive on it. Pedestrians can easily walk across them. Some of these that happen to be on the wider side, can possibly offer parking for cars like Nano.
The bumper breakers: The pretty standard design of speed breaker, where it rises suddenly and falls equally suddenly. The ability of the engineer is in the height the breaker attains and how steep the incline (up and down) can be. More often than not, the height is such that the vehicle’s bottom hits the top of the breaker or the bumper itself hits the breaker. These can also be affectionately called as body breakers, because of the shock they provide to the passengers.
The rumblers: Gaining popularity of late are these rumbler speed breakers, which exist in multiples. Very often they are spotted in triplets, but occasionally (like at end of highway), they can appear in twenties or thirties. The periodic shocks that they provide to the vehicle, causes the driver to hit the breaks to smoothen out the bumps. It surely helps waking up sleepy drivers and can offer a cheaper alternative to digest heavy food, than trying to pop antacid or digestive tablets.
The tiger: I am calling these the tiger because of their yellow/black color combination. These are the most consistent in their design, because seem to be mass produced as hard rubber and then drilled on the road surface. They are much smaller than the bumper breakers, but very effective, given the very hard material that is used to make them. Try to navigate past them at a higher speed and you will probably end up with your body internals in an entangled mess.
I was in Delhi recently and driving from the International Airport to Ghaziabad. I must say that the journey was mostly speed breaker free, the roads were excellent and the numerous fly overs helped to by continuously driving at pretty good speed (within speed limits though), with the occasional halts at traffic light.
I will urge the Pune officials to resist the urge of ‘construct one get one’ speed breaker free and rather look at making good wide roads and manage the traffic violations with a strict hand. Smooth drive on the road, can in the longer run, prove to be lot more environmental friendly than having the never ending speed breakers to drive over.