In the rat race that is the urban lifestyle, we constantly have our foot on the accelerator, trying to get from point A to B in impossibly short times. Small gap in traffic opens in front of us and the instinct is to floor it and close the gap. God forbid someone else reacts quicker, sneaks in, and gets ahead of us! And then there are those situations when the intersection is several 100m ahead and the light turns green. Of course, we must hit 80 kmph and make the green because the world will come to an end if we miss the light.

Sure you can brake and assuming you keep your vehicle in great condition, the brakes work well. But no matter how good the brakes and how good your reaction time, there is always a  gap between the person stepping out, you being aware of their presence, the brain processing that information and causing you to hit the brakes; and the brakes doing their job and bringing the vehicle to a halt. It may seem a short time when you actually do this but in terms of seconds it is quite a bit.

It takes a few seconds to slow down and halt and in that time you obviously will have travelled some distance. Studies show us how long the car travels depending on the speed of the car.

Source: Queensland Government

The same concept is explained in this video from the same source.  

It’s simple physics. Mass * Velocity = Speed.

There are more practical and legal reasons as well to slow down. The Motor Vehicles Act 1988, or MV Act, and its rules sets speed limits for different kinds of roads and vehicles. Each state government can decide its own speed limit as long as it does not exceed the limits set in the Act. It is something all of us are supposed to know before we get a licence. The speed limit signages are also supposed to be clearly displayed. The Motor Vehicles Rules puts the penalty for speeding at Rs 400 for the first offence and Rs 1000 for subsequent offences. However, in the MV (Amendment) Bill 2016 that was passed by the Lok Sabha in the Budget Session, the penalties have increased. Once this becomes law, the first offence will put you back anywhere between Rs 1000 and 2000 for light motor vehicles (two-wheeler or car) and Rs 2000 to 4000 for a heavy motor vehicle, goods/passenger vehicle i.e. tempos, lorries, buses etc. A subsequent offence would result in the driving licence being disqualified and to get your licence again, you would have to take a driving refresher course.

So, in every which way, it makes sense to – Slow Down!

This week, May 8 to 14 is the UN Road Safety Week and this year the theme is Slow Down! Let’s take this opportunity then to take a hard look at our own driving and take steps to reduce our speed.