Confusion over the speed limit on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway has made it one of the most dangerous stretches in the National Capital Region (NCR). Surprisingly, the controlled-access expressway has two different speed limits for its Delhi and Gurgaon stretches.
Nearly 430 commuters have lost their lives on the 18-kilometre portion of the expressway in Gurgaon since it inaugurated in January 2008, according to data available with the Gurgaon traffic police.
Officials said the number of fatalities would be much higher if accidents that occurred on the remaining 10-km stretch of the expressway, that falls in Delhi, is included in the death toll.
Experts blame the lack of lane driving and minimal enforcement of speed limits by authorities as the main reason for the high number of casualties. The lack of clarity about speed limits on the highway is also another grey area.
While the Delhi stretch has the maximum speed limit of 70 kilometre per hour for light motor vehicles, it is 80 kilometre per hour in Gurgaon.
“We had suggested authorities to have a uniform speed limit along the entire stretch of the expressway. However, these speed limits were finally decided by the traffic authorities of the respective states,” said a spokesperson of the toll operator Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited (DGSCL).
Bharti Arora, deputy commissioner of police (traffic), Gurgaon, claimed her department did not have a role in deciding the speed limits on national highways.
The risk of accidents goes up manifold as cars and buses run at an average speed of 100 kmph on the expressway, while there is no check on slow-moving vehicles such as two-wheelers and autos.
The speed limit for light motor vehicles is 70kmph on the Delhi stretch of the e-way near Mahipalpur. HT photo
On the issue of lax enforcement of speed limits and lane discipline, Arora said the traffic department has been prompt and regular in penalising offenders.
Speed limit should not cross 60 kmph in city: Rohit Baluja
There is total confusion over speed limits on highways across the country and the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, which is part of National Highway-8, is no exception.
Under the Motor Vehicles Act, speed limits have to be notified by the government.
In case of the Gurgaon expressway, I am curious how they derived the speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour and 80 kilometres per hour for the Delhi and Gurgaon stretches, respectively.
The speed limits on highways and other roads ideally have to be decided on the basis of traffic engineering norms.
According to this, the speed limit can be 15% less than the average speed of vehicles moving on that stretch.
I doubt if the factors of traffic engineering have been considered while deciding the speed limit on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway.
Other factors that need to be taken into account for fixing a speed limit are the presence of junctions, petrol stations, pedestrian crossings, blind turns etc.
Technically, there cannot be a fixed uniform speed on the entire stretch.
On the Gurgaon stretch signages display a speed limit of 80 kmph near South City. HT photo
Based on the above factors, speed should be varying for different points.
Considering the facts that the Gurgaon expressway meanders through the heart of the city, has several exit points and slow moving two-wheelers and three-wheelers share the same space, the speed limit should not be more than 60 kilometre per hour instead of the present 80 kilometre per hour.
Looking at the number of fatal accidents that have occurred on the stretch, the traffic police, toll operator or other agencies on behalf of the local authority should enforce speed limits strictly.
(Rohit Baluja, president, Institute of Road Traffic Education, Delhi)