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Speed bumps: more harm than good

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Speed bumps: more harm than good | Thaiger

PHUKET: Among the many factors conspiring to make Phuket roads some of the most dangerous in Thailand is the proliferation of poorly-designed, poorly-marked and poorly-maintained speed bumps that needlessly cause untold millions of baht in car damages and wasted fossil fuels every year.

The Phuket Gazette does not refute the effectiveness of speed bumps at slowing down traffic. Speed bumps do have their place in some urban settings, especially near schools and other places where the safety of pedestrians is the primary concern.

The sad reality, however, is that Phuket suffers from a widespread public disregard for traffic law, coupled with an almost complete disinterest among law officers in issuing tickets for moving violations. The result is speed bumps everywhere, even on curved, hilly sections of major highways.

The whole concept of speed bumps, and associated impediments to constant velocity such as “speed ramps”, turns mankind’s remarkable achievements in road-building technology over the ages completely on its head.

From the time of the Roman Empire, the goal of road-building projects has been to create firm, level surfaces to maximize the efficiency of rolling conveyances. We are now capable of engineering marvels such as the German autobahn, where for most people driving is actually a pleasure and not a daily source of frustration, fear and anger.

Circumstances here in Phuket make speed bumps a necessary evil in some cases, but we need the Highways Department, Department of Rural Roads, local administration organizations and other agencies responsible to exercise better judgment and common sense in their design and placement. They also need better maintenance, especially those made with reinforced concrete bars that are exposed over time and shred a rubber tyre just as easily as a human foot.

Readers familiar with Phuket roads probably would not take long to produce a list of speed bumps on the island that do more harm than good overall. Many are simply too high, causing even standard car makes to “bottom out”. The situation must be far worse for drivers of ground-hugging sports cars and one actually has to wonder who in their right mind would ever take a Ferrari or Lamborghini out on the streets of Phuket.

All the cracked oil pans, damaged shock absorbers and overall wear and tear caused by speed bumps no doubt provide a ready source of work for island mechanics – but there are few other benefits.

During campaigning, local politicians invariably talk about the need to improve traffic flow in Phuket by spending millions on mega-projects. But the reality on the ground is a trend for ever more speed bumps and red lights at three-way junctions where they are unneeded and, as a consequence, routinely ignored.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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