New Delhi: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has asked the officials of his ministry to look at possible revisions in the maximum speed limits allowed to vehicles on Indian roads, and asked them to explore ways to increase them by at least 20 kilometres per hour (kmph).
At a meeting with the officials Tuesday, Gadkari said the country now has better roads, and which can allow vehicles to move at higher speeds.
The minister also raised the issue of non-uniformity of speed limits across the country and said it was confusing for drivers. At present, speed limits may vary over short stretches of roads, owing to different speed limits set by the local police for roads under their jurisdiction.
“The subject of revising the existing speed limits and increasing them by 20kmph was discussed at the meeting,” confirmed a senior ministry official who attended the meeting. “This is because the quality of highways have improved (over the past few years) and can allow vehicles to travel at a higher speed.”
Another source in the ministry explained: “The current speed limits were decided in 2014-15. Since then, the quality of highways have improved a lot.”
The present maximum speed limit for cars, as notified by the ministry, is 100 kmph on national highways and 120kmph on expressways. The speed limits are different for two-wheeler and heavy vehicles, such as trucks. The speed limit on highways and expressways is 80kmph for bikes and 100 kmph for heavy vehicles such as buses and trucks.
After Gadkari’s direction to increase the speed limits on roads, and introduce a system of uniform speed restriction, officials in the ministry said the matter was being looked into. Meanwhile, no set specific timeline has been decided on yet for the introduction of the revised speed limits.
‘Need to revise speed norms considering new roads being built’
This is not the first time Gadkari has spoken about increasing speed limits for vehicles on Indian roads.
At a road safety virtual conference — Way to Vision Zero — in November 2020, Gadkari spoke about increasing speed limits on multi-lane roads and for state road administrations to go easy on penalising vehicles for speeding. He had also criticised the slow speed limits on some multi-lane roads in India, and said it was unfortunate when vehicles on such roads were penalised for breaching a speed limit as low as 40kmph.
Gadkari had said: “We need to revise our speed norms considering the new roads being built, including expressways and Greenfield highways, widening of highways to four and six lanes.”
At the Tuesday meeting, an official in the ministry said, it was implied that the reason for increasing the speed limit was to increase the throughput, or the number of vehicles accessing the road. “The greater the speed limit, the more will be the number of vehicles that can access the roads,” he explained.
According to officials, Gadkari also raised the issue of black spots — a point where road accidents have traditionally been concentrated — at the meeting, and instructed officials to attend to the problem.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)