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Friday, March 07, 2008

Karnataka Transporters Strike over Speed Governor issue-An analysis

Last Month, over 7 lakh commercial vehicles in Karnataka went off road protesting against the state government rule that speed governors be mandatorily installed in all commercial vehicles. Lorry Owners, supported by other commercial vehicle operators and transporters went on a stir and eventually the supreme court has issued a stay to government order, relieving the owners temporarily.

This post offers an in depth impact analysis of the issue.

The reason given by the government for imposing Speed Governors: Over speeding trucks are a traffic menace and can be fatal to the public. Limiting the speed of the vehicles can bring down the death toll.

However convincing that may sound, my opinion is that it is not fair to impose speed governors on vehicles, because there’ll be more negative impact than positive, if any.

Now let us go step by step.

Will enforcing speed governors bring down death rates on highways?
Extremely unlikely. Why?

Consider this: A heavy vehicle like truck will have huge mass. Because of this, they carry a very high momentum (Momentum is product of mass and velocity and is a measure of impact an object can do upon collision). Because of its huge mass, a truck can knock down a person standing in front of it, even at a modest speed of 10 kmph. So, irrespective of whether the truck is moving at 100kmph (average speed on highway under normal conditions) or at 60 kmph (let us say the maximum speed permitted by speed governor when installed), chances are that accident will be fatal in both cases. Since it is not practical to say that trucks shouldn’t run, the approach should be to ensure that no one comes in the way of the truck.

The business impact of Speed governor

1 Loss of Business
With Karnataka being the only state in the country to enforce speed governor, the vehicles registered in Karnataka will be at a competitive disadvantage compared to vehicles of neighboring states. If the speed governor cuts the average speed by 50% the time to deliver the goods will double. This means the operating cost also will double. The government will not compensate the truckers for this and customer will not pay extra, because on the same road the trucks belonging to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra can zoom at twice the speed and deliver goods on time. Gradually customers will shift to non Karnataka trucks throwing the later out of business. So, if at all it is enforced it needs to be done uniformly across the nation.

Ask yourself as a consumer:

If an Airavata (KSRTC's Volvo Service) takes 15 hours to reach Hyderabad while Garuda (APSRTC's Volvo Service) can take you there in 10 hours, which one do you prefer? Slower speed doesn't necessarily translate into higher safety. What counts is how safely the vehicle is run and how external parameters (roads, other road users, vehicle condition such as braking efficiency etc) help ensuring a smooth journey. [Related: Bangalore Hyderabad by Bus]

We're building express highways like Golden Quadrilateral to facilitate smooth and quick transport. Imposing a speed limit of 60kmph is like going back to stone age

2 Effectiveness and implementation
We already have so many traffic rules-how many are being effectively implemented? Will not this speed governor become another measure for RTO inspectors to make money? From a business perspective, it makes more economical and business sense for truck operators to bribe check post inspector with few hundred rupees and speed away without a SG, as the delay in delivery time because of SG can be more expensive than the bribe. So the implementation is more likely to serve the vested interest of few than general public.

Also it is very easy for anyone to buy a truck in TN/AP, get it registered there with National permit and use in Karnataka. The state government will unnecessarily lose revenue.

3 What about Volvo & Man Trucks?
A Volvo truck costs 3 times the ordinary one. If someone has invested in a Volvo he definitely needs to charge his customers extra, which can be justified because a Volvo can carry 2 times the load of a normal truck and take half the time to deliver them. If speed of Volvo is restricted at par with ordinary vehicle, Volvo truck owner will never be able to recover his investment.
High performance truck makers like Volvo, Force Man and Merc will be eventually driven out of business

4 Damage to roads
Few claim that over speeding/overloaded truck will have greater damage on the roads. Partially true. But my argument is that we should build an infrastructure (roads) that can withstand heavy loads and facilitate faster movement of goods. That is the only way forward. Not the excuses such as "Go slow because our roads are delicate"

What is the solution?

1 Address other issues first:
It is perfectly safe to cruise at high speeds when the road and vehicle condition is good, driver is skilled and there's no possible obstacles on the way. The average speed of vehicles abroad on autobahns is 2 to 3 times Indian vehicles, still the death toll there is lower.
Drunken, rash and negligent driving, drivers allowing cleaners to drive, poor state of the trucks, not having good roads, improper rest room and other facilities to highway drivers- these are the major reasons for the accidents which need to be resolved first. Else with or without speed governor accidents will continue to happen.

2 Educate all road users:
Most of us (pedestrians and cycle riders included) don’t take traffic rules seriously. Haven’t you seen a cycle rider getting down his vehicle and pushing the same across the street when there’s a red light and he was not supposed to cross? We often wont show any respect towards big vehicles. A truck driver will often be forced to hit some other vehicle to avoid hitting a bicycle rider who took an abrupt turn to came in front of the moving truck. We often catch the bigger vehicle, never trying to find whose fault it was.

3 Use hub and spoke model
(it is already in use partially in some cities)

4 Promote RORO wherever possible.
Konkan Railway corporation has a service called RORO (Roll ON-Roll OFF) wherein trucks are carried between Mangalore and Mumbai on train. This saves time, fuel, money and effort for truck operators and saves lot of space on roads which these trucks otherwise would have occupied. Similar service should be extended to other parts of the country.

RORO Video:




Speed governors make sense if the vehicle is exclusive for intra-city use (BMTC Buses already have speed governor). But on highway, they hinder the speed, not just of the vehicle, but that of nation’s growth.

What others say? Churumuri offers an opposite perspective which I do not agree. Enguru and Vasuki Rao agree with me.

Btb I was holding a valid HTV license until last year. Now it has expired and needs to be renewed.

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8 comments :

ಅಮರ said...

ಪ್ರಿಯ ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿಯವರೇ,

ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ ಹೇಗಿದ್ದೀರಾ?


ನಾವೆಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಕಾಲದಿಂದ ಅಂತರ್ಜಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೀತಿದೀವಿ, ಓದ್ತಿದೀವಿ, ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ತಿದೀವಿ, ಮೇಲ್-ಸ್ಕ್ರಾಪ್-ಚಾಟ್ ಮಾಡ್ಕೊಳ್ತಿದೀವಿ.. ಆದ್ರೆ ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ಜನ ಪರಸ್ಪರ ಪರಿಚಯ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡಿಲ್ಲ, ಮುಖತಃ ಭೇಟಿ ಆಗಿಲ್ಲ. ಇರಾದೆ ಇದ್ರೂ ಅದು ಸಾಧ್ಯ ಆಗಿಲ್ಲ!

ಇಂತಿದ್ದಾಗ, ನವ ಪ್ರಕಾಶನ ಸಂಸ್ಥೆ 'ಪ್ರಣತಿ', ಅಂತರ್ಜಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಬಳಸುವ ಮತ್ತು ಓದುವ ಎಲ್ಲರನ್ನು ಒಂದೆಡೆ ಸೇರಿಸುವ ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಂದಾಗಿದೆ. ನಾಡಿದ್ದು ಭಾನುವಾರ ನಾವೆಲ್ಲ ಪರಸ್ಪರ ಭೇಟಿಯಾಗುವ ಅವಕಾಶ ಒದಗಿ ಬಂದಿದೆ.

ಡೇಟು: ೧೬ ಮಾರ್ಚ್ ೨೦೦೮
ಟೈಮು: ಇಳಿಸಂಜೆ ನಾಲ್ಕು
ಪ್ಲೇಸು: ಇಂಡಿಯನ್ ಇನ್‍ಸ್ಟಿಟ್ಯೂಟ್ ಆಫ್ ವರ್ಲ್ಡ್ ಕಲ್ಚರ್‌, ಬಸವನಗುಡಿ, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು

ಆವತ್ತು ನಮ್ಮೊಂದಿಗೆ, ಕನ್ನಡದ ಮೊದಲ ಅಂತರ್ಜಾಲ ತಾಣದ ರೂವಾರಿ ಡಾ| ಯು.ಬಿ. ಪವನಜ, 'ದಟ್ಸ್ ಕನ್ನಡ'ದ ಸಂಪಾದಕ ಎಸ್.ಕೆ. ಶ್ಯಾಮಸುಂದರ್, 'ಸಂಪದ'ದ ಹರಿಪ್ರಸಾದ್ ನಾಡಿಗ್, 'ಕೆಂಡಸಂಪಿಗೆ'ಯ ಅಬ್ದುಲ್ ರಶೀದ್ ಸಹ ಇರ್ತಾರೆ, ಮಾತಾಡ್ತಾರೆ.

ಎಲ್ಲರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಒಂದು ಸಂಜೆ ಕಳೆಯುವ ಖುಶಿಗೆ ನೀವೂ ಪಾಲುದಾರರಾಗಿ ಅಂತ, 'ಪ್ರಣತಿ'ಯ ಪರವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯಿಂದ ಆಹ್ವಾನಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರಿಗೂ ತಿಳಿಸಿ. ಅವರನ್ನೂ ಕರೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಬನ್ನಿ.

ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಸಿಗೋಣ,
ಇಂತಿ,

- ಅಮರ

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Amar,

I think I will be there...

@Crescenet:
I had to delete your comment as it looked more like a spam. Your site is in a language I cant understand and there appears to be no blogroll...

ptcbus said...

eNidhi, you should be aware that higher the mass, higher the momentum and hence it is difficult to maneuver a heavy vehicle especially at higher speeds.

At lower speeds the pedestrians can have a longer reaction time to react to an erratic truck coming at a lower speed.

Also on city roads in US, pedestrians have the highest priority and everybody has to yield to them. (On freeways pedestrians and any other vehicle which travels slower than a certain speed limit are not allowed which includes bikes, mopeds and scooters). In India pedestrians are treated like beggars.

Also coming back to the math, the kinetic energy is proportional to square of the speed. Which means that if someone doubled the speed, the kinetic energy would be quadrupled. In an accident the damage is caused by the high kinetic energy.

In US, the trucks are limited to much lower speeds compared to cars even though the traffic in US is way less chaotic compared to India. Low speed for trucks is the way to go.

I do like the concept of trains for long distance hauls like the one you have linked to in your blog.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Ptcbus:

Agreed. As I said, speed governors make sense for within the city usage. Already we have lot of measures to check speed within city- the speed breakers, barricades set up by traffic police etc. Also in most of the cities trucks are not allowed to enter the city during peak hours. They are made to wait outside the city, say on ring road etc.

And why should pedestrian come in the way of a truck? In india our footpaths are occupied by hawkers and vendors forcing public to walk on the road. Where is the root cause of the problem?

As I said accidents happen because of rash and negligent driving, which needs to be curbed. because few drivers are negligent I believe it is not a good idea to ban the whole community of trucks from crossing 60 kmph, particularly on highways, where permitted speed should be minimum of 100 kmph, unless it is a ghat section or other reasons make it non advisable to go at high speed.

Coming to Kinetic energy, if a private car cruising at 140 kmph collides with a truck travelling at 60 kmph will you still blame the truck for damage? Why not limit the speed of cars too? If a truck doesn't cross 20kmph can that guarantee that there'll be no deaths?

Any comment on the business impact part?

thanks again

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Anonymous said...

I should email my pal about your post.