By Megha Goswami
New Delhi, July 26:
An important bill that can have a significant impact on road safety has been held up in Parliament.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and is being opposed by a number of opposition parties on the premise that the bill curtails the powers of state governments and favours corporates, also comes up with provisions that will make Indian roads less dangerous for drivers, commuters and pedestrians. The Bill has acquired the green signal in the Lok Sabha.
Proposals in the Bill emphasize on substantial increases in penalties for varying traffic violations, protection for unofficial first responders at an accident site, greater accountability for auto vehicle parts manufacturing companies with regular recalls of defective parts, greater accountability for builders for poor quality of infrastructure and greater scrutiny of vehicle owners alongside criminal liability for violations committed by juvenile drivers.
According to a survey conducted in 2017 by Consumer Voice, an organisation involved in policy making and complaints redressal, 96 per cent of the consumers surveyed held the belief that the passage of the Bill would help meet the UN mandate to reduce road accidents up to 50 per cent by 2020.
According to the same survey; ninety-seven per cent were of the opinion that the Bill should receive support across party lines owing to the fact that it is of prime importance to bring down fatalities caused road accidents for which India ranks highest in the world with 1.46 lakh road accidents reported annually.
The importance of the Motor Vehicle Act (Amendment) Bill 2017 stems from the fact that it is an important legislation as it will bring radical change to outdated road safety laws.
Some of the highlighted proposals in the Bill are as follows…
1) Drivers licence and vehicle registration will be improbable without Adhaar registration.
2) Compensation for victim’s family in the case of deaths in hit-and-run cases will be raised from 25,000 to 2 Lakhs.
3) In case of traffic violations by juveniles; owners of vehicles will be held accountable, Registration will be cancelled and juveniles will be tried according to the Juvenile Justice Act.
4) The bill makes provisions for the protection of passers-by who choose to provide aid and relief at the sight of an accident . Individuals helping accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. Disclosure of identity to the police or medical personnel; will be optional for Good Samaritans.
5) Drunk driving fines has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.
6) Rash driving fines has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.
7) Driving without a licence fine of Rs 5,000 has been proposed by the Bill in comparison to Rs 500 at present.
8) Over-speeding fines will go up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000-2,000.
9) Failure to wear seatbelt would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 in comparison to Rs 100 at present.
10) Talking on a mobile phone while driving will attract a fine of Rs 5,000, up from Rs 1,000.
11) A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
12) Mandatory alteration of public transport vehicles to make them suitable for specially abled people.
13) Contractors, consultants and civic agencies will be held responsible for faulty design, construction or poor maintenance of roads causing road accidents.
14) A time limit of six months has been specified for an application of compensation to the Claims Tribunal with regard to road accidents.
15) The Bill removes the limit on liability for third-party insurance. The 2016 Bill had capped the maximum liability at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injury.
16) The time limit for renewal of driving licence is increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.
17) The government is free to recall vehicles whose components or engine fail to meet the required standards. Manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 500 crore in case of sub-standard components or engine.