Over-speeding is one of the primary reasons for a majority of traffic accidents in the city. Though a speed limit of 40 kmph within city limits is in place, vehicular speed monitoring is largely absent due to various constraints. A bunch of students at IIT-Madras might just have hit upon a solution at last.
The principle is simple — a set of sensors installed on the road margin would calculate a vehicle's speed as it passes by; a digital board erected at a point further down the road would display the speed; and an alarm would go off if the motorist does not reduce the speed below 40 kmph.
Though similar systems are used by the police in many western countries, the novelty of the speed monitoring device which is currently being tested outside the Electrical Sciences block at IIT-M is its low cost. The prototype of the device, which might soon be demonstrated to the Chennai City Traffic Police, costs only Rs.2,000.
Anand Narayanan, a fourth-year engineering student, says that there is a need for speed monitoring inside the campus as the institution is located within a reserve forest and speeding vehicles had caused quite a few deer deaths.
“We thought of buying radar guns, but they cost $ 500 per device. Besides, a security guard must be present to use the radar gun. So we decided to build our own system,” he says.
The speed monitoring system, installed on a two-lane road inside the campus, has a set of Laser LEDs that act as optical trip wires and trigger speed detection. Once the speed is displayed on a digital board 200 feet ahead, the motorist is given a reaction time of three seconds to reduce speed.
K. Giridhar, professor at the Electrical Engineering Department, IIT-M, says that a camera will be installed soon to “log violations”. The camera would capture the number plate and the data would be sent to the central security office via Wi-Fi. “Violators can be caught at the gate,” Mr.Giridhar says.
Gitakrishnan Ramadurai, Transportation professor at IIT-M, says that there has already been a change in driver behaviour on the road. “Similar systems could be installed in school zones. They would also be very effective in night time speed monitoring,” he says.
Mr.Giridhar says that if the city police are serious about speed control, they should not invest in radar guns as they are highly inaccurate and rely heavily on the “angle of attack”.
“Radar guns will be effective only if the policeman is standing on top of a freeway and using the gun to measure the speed of vehicles on the road below.
Traffic police must also evolve a centralised, evidence-based mechanism for fine collection if their enforcement measures are to have any impact on driver behaviour,” he adds.