Speed Limiters: How Effective Are They?
26 April 2013 - Défi Media Group
There was a staunch resistance from heavy vehicles owners when government first announced its intention to introduce speed limiters in 2010.
However, the legislation finally got through and all heavy vehicles weighing over 3.5 tons have to be compulsorily equipped with a speed limiter device as from July 2011 or risk fines up to Rs 10,000. Furthermore, to strengthen this law, owners were warned that, as from 01 July 2012, heavy vehicles not yet fitted with a speed limiter will not be issued a certificate of fitness.
Despite the bold move by the authorities aiming to curb road accidents, News on Sunday has received complaints from the public claiming many heavy vehicles can still be seen exceeding speed limit. Reckless driving at over 70 or 100kmh, dodgy speed limiter certificates, and heavy vehicles still without speed limiters, figure amongst criticisms received. One angry motorist went as far as to say that the speed limiters, better known as ECM (Electronic Control Module), is a useless tool.
“Many heavy vehicle owners are not respecting the law. It can be clearly seen that the speed at which these vehicles, drive on roads is scary. There have been many instances where buses and trucks have overtaken me whilst I was doing 100 km/h. It means their speed limiter is either not functioning or they are not equipped with one. How can this be?” she exclaimed. A bus mechanic told us he knows of buses which are well equipped but not properly calibrated. “Buses cannot afford to limit their speed. These devices can be easily tampered with and not even experts can find out,” he grinned. “Some owners prefer to pay a small sum for a bogus certificate rather than buy an expensive device which can cost up to Rs 15,000.”
Contacted by News on Sunday, Cyril Appajala, of the National Transportation Authority (NTA) stated that it may be possible that some heavy vehicle owners are not abiding by the law. “Whether there is any truth in these allegations can be debated. However, it is not something that is improbable. As regards to reckless driving at high speeds, I believe that it is the responsibility of the police to deal with them. Furthermore, with new speed cameras that are being introduced, it will become very difficult to drive irresponsibly; not only for heavy vehicle owners, but all vehicles alike,” he told us. News on Sunday also questioned Cyril Appajala regarding the possibility of fake speed limiters or installation certificates being issued to heavy vehicle owners. “Any distributor involved in any such alleged scam is taking a huge risk and if caught would receive heavy sanctions. Distributors need to maintain discipline,” he replied.
‘Clients seek bogus certificates elsewhere’
Avinash Rakhal, owner of Secureworks Ltd, one of the licensed distributor and installer of speed limiters, told us that indeed many vehicles are not respecting the law and that there is a serious problem regarding the issuing of certificates. “Heavy vehicles driving at excess speeds are still common sight. Not all norms and requirements are being respected by those who install and calibrate speed limiters. According to my information, some distributors are offering heavy vehicle owners false certificates and tampering with the calibration of speed limiters. Companies indulging in these illegal acts are putting themselves at risk. In case of a serious accident, fingers will be pointed at them as the false certificate they sold to the vehicle owner will have their name on it. Furthermore, the NTA has a duty to not only verify certificates of heavy vehicle owners, but also the calibration and the speed limiter itself. It is essential as it concerns public security,” stated Avinash Rakhal.
UBS: ‘Speed limiters do not restrict speed of vehicles’
Contacted by News on Sunday, Yousouf Sairally, Works Manager at the United Bus Service (UBS) gave us a brief explanation on how the speed limiter operates. “Speed limiters are designed to stop pumping fuel to an engine once it reaches the calibrated speed limit. Hence, no fuel gets pumped to the engine therefore the vehicle cannot go any faster. However, on slopes the momentum gained allows buses to drive in excess of what is allowed even if the speed limiter cuts off fuel supply to the engine. It is therefore up to the driver to apply brakes and keep his vehicle speed in accordance with the law.” The Works Manager also assured us that all UBS vehicles are in compliance with the law. “We take such issues very seriously and implement them the best we can,” he added.