Slow Down: United Way Mumbai’s Campaign to Curb Speeding

United Way Mumbai

United Way Mumbai – India ranks first among 199 countries in terms of road crash fatalities, followed by China and the United States. India is responsible for over 11% of all traffic fatalities worldwide. According to the Ministry of traffic Transport and Highways Report 2021, traffic crashes kill around 1.53 lakh persons in India each year. Overspeeding is a prominent cause of these crashes, accounting for 71.7% of them and resulting in 69.6% deaths and 72.9% injuries.

Recognising the critical need for road safety, United Way Mumbai began interventions through their project United for Road Safety. Their Slow Down programme, which is endorsed by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), pushes and encourages the need to observe speed limits on city roads, with the goal of improving road safety through public mobility and speed management measures.

The campaign intends to encourage the execution of the Motor Vehicle Act in Maharashtra, notably targeting speeding and speed management enforcement in Mumbai. Slow Down programmes are also intended to raise awareness about the dangers of speeding.

United Way Mumbai partnered with the Traffic Control Branch, Mumbai Police, Motor Vehicle Department, Government of Maharashtra, and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay to conduct the ‘Slow Down’ speed observation study, which identified causal factors of speeding in 20 accident-prone areas in Mumbai and recommended speed calming measures. The study also gave evidence of speeding to the Mumbai Traffic Police for appropriate enforcement procedures.

United Way Mumbai

Some of the study’s significant findings about enforcement include: just 7 out of 20 locations posted speed limits, crucial road signage such as ‘Speed limit,’ ‘Crash prone spot,’ and’merging portion ahead’ were absent at 11 places, and incorrectly positioned at 2 locations. Furthermore, side friction was noticed at 7 spots due to illegal roadside parking, and pedestrians were spotted walking on the highway rather than the pathways at 7 sites (encroached footpaths).

The study suggests addressing these issues by deploying traffic wardens to regulate traffic during peak hours, controlling vendor encroachment on the road to avoid side friction, using CCTV surveillance to check for and fine rash drivers and speeders, and regulating undisciplined parking.

A few common observations made by the study regarding engineering factors include the absence of road/lane markings in 17 locations, poor visibility at night in 3 locations, insufficient road signs in 11 locations, potential conflict points at merging sections in 6 locations, and good road conditions combined with straight stretch results in vehicle over-speeding.

In addition to the study, the Slow Down campaign educates motorists and citizens through mass awareness campaigns. Furthermore, over 200 residents have founded Road Safety Advocacy Clubs (RSAC) in each of the 20 dark sites. The RSACs assist local authorities in understanding the reasons for speeding at specific locations and educate motorists on the significance of slowing down through awareness campaigns. They advocate for infrastructural upgrades to facilitate speed limit enforcement. They also have frequent meetings to review road safety issues and apply solutions based on the speed observation report. They also follow up with necessary authorities to ensure that road safety suggestions are implemented.

The RSAC club members can be a potential local resource for the Mumbai Traffic Police. In one instance, an RSAC member was quick to act when he noticed a dysfunctional signal at Mazgaon, Dockyard. He immediately informed the concerned official and got it repaired.

United Way Mumbai will continue to support RSACs to advocate for road safety in their neighborhoods. They aim to support the local authorities in the implementation of the study recommendations for enhancing road safety in Mumbai. They are hopeful the learning from the campaign would be helpful in developing the speed management policy at the state and national levels