The NEW ROAD
More than any other cause of death motor accidents claims more lives in India and the number ever increasing. With a proposal of 68 amendments to 233 sections and the insertion of 28 new sections in the 1988 Motor Vehicles Act, the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, in August 2016 and is currently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Culture, and Tourism.
Here is the new law to keep a check on the various aspects of the motor vehicle law which was earlier neglected.
- Higher Penalties
The bill increases the penalties for several offences. The minimum fine for being caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from ₹2,000 to ₹10,000 and for rash driving; it has been increased from ₹1,000 to ₹5,000.
Additionally, people found driving without a seat belt can be fined ₹1,000 and the penalty for driving without a helmet is a fine of ₹1,000 along with a 3-month suspension of the offender’s driving licence.
- Cashless Treatment for Road Accident Victims
The bill instructs the central government to develop a scheme to provide cashless medical treatment to people injured in road accidents within the first hour of its occurrence. This clause has been included in recognition of the fact that the likelihood of saving the life of a severely injured person is the highest if medical attention is given within the first 60 minutes.
- Increased Compensation for The Family of The Deceased
If an individual dies in a hit and run case, the central government is required to provide a compensation of ₹2 lakh or more to their family. Currently, the compensation provided for such cases is ₹25,000.
- Inclusion of Good Samaritan Guidelines
The bill also incorporates the Good Samaritan guidelines which were issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and given the force of law by the Supreme Court on March 30, 2016, in their entirety. These guidelines protect Good Samaritans (bystanders who come forward, in good faith, to help road accident victims) from civil and criminal liability and make it optional for them to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel.
- National Transportation Policy
Under the bill, the central government is required to develop a ‘National Transportation Policy’ to establish a framework for road transportation planning, for granting of permits, and identify and set priorities for the road transport system. The policy is to be created in consultation with the various state governments.
- Compulsory Insurance
Apart from new provisions that simplify the process of settling third party insurance claims and put a cap of ₹10 lakh for deaths and ₹5 lakh for injuries for insurer liabilities, one of the requirements in the bill is that the central government set up a ‘Motor Vehicle Accident Fund’. This will provide an automatic cover for all road accident victims in India. This is an incorporation of suggestions which was made by the Supreme Court in 2011 to provide compensation in instances of injuries and deaths due to hit and run cases and to people who just happen to be in a vehicle which meets with an accident.
- Recognition of Offences Committed by Juveniles
The bill also covers traffic violations committed by juveniles and places the responsibility on their guardians or on the owner of the motor vehicle involved. They will be let off only if it is proven that the offence was committed without their knowledge or that all due diligence to prevent it was exercised. Apart from this, the registration of the motor vehicle in question will be cancelled. Juveniles themselves will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
- Automated Fitness Training for Vehicles
One of the new sections included in the bill pushes for the introduction of an automated process to test the fitness of motor vehicles by October 1, 2018. This move should do a better task of keeping unsafe vehicles off the road and reduce corruption in transportation departments. Such automated testing centres have already started coming up in different states and have computer-monitored tests for PUC (pollution under control) certification, speedometer calibration, brake adjustment, suspension testing and wheel alignment.
- National Registry for Licenses and Registrations
To unify and streamline the process of issuing and documenting registrations and licenses issued, the bill formalises the creation of a ‘National Register for Driving License’ and a ‘National Register for Vehicle Registration’ through the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ existing Vahan (for vehicle registry) and Sarthi (for driving licenses) platforms.
Launched in 2007, these online platforms have been working towards the creation of a centralized database and making the process of obtaining licenses and registrations swifter.
- Electronic Monitoring
The bill has a provision that asks the government to ensure proper electronic surveillance on national and state highways and urban roads. The central government is supposed to create a comprehensive set of rules for this.