Road accidents are steadily increasing. India, currently, has the highest number of road fatalities in the world which stands at 1.46 lakhs annually. The Motor Vehicles Act which was passed in 1988 governs road traffic rules and regulations. However, the Act is quite old and given the increasing number of road accidents, amendments to the Act were felt necessary. Keeping this sentiment in mind, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill was drafted and presented in the Parliament in 2017. Though the Lok Sabha passed the bill, it is still pending in the Rajya Sabha. Here’s decoding what the Bill is all about –
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill has proposed stricter penalties and fines for road traffic offenders. Anyone found responsible for causing road accidents has been proposed severe fines under the new Bill. Here are some of the major changes proposed by the Bill –
- Increase in traffic fines and penalties
One of the major highlights of the bill is the hike in fines imposed on traffic offenders. Here are some common hikes which have been proposed –
|Offence||Existing fine||New proposed fine|
|Drunk driving||Rs.2000||Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000|
|Driving without license||Rs.500||Rs.5000|
|Talking on phone while driving||Rs.1000||Rs.5000|
|Overloading of passengers||Not existed||Rs.200/extra passenger|
|Overloading of two-wheelers||Rs.100||Rs.1000+disqualification of license for 3 months|
|No helmet||Rs.100||Rs.1000+disqualification of license for 3 months|
|Driving without insurance||Rs.1000||Rs.2000 + 3 months imprisonment|
- Stricter laws for juvenile offenders
Under the old Act, offences caused by juveniles attracted penalties and/or imprisonments only. Under the proposed amendment, there are stricter laws for juvenile offences. The parents of the juvenile would be held responsible in case of any accident if the vehicle was driven by a juvenile. A fine of Rs.25, 000 and/or imprisonment of the parent/guardian would be applicable. Moreover, the juvenile would be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act. The registration of the vehicle would also be cancelled.
- Ease of availing driving license
Under the new Bill, granting driving licenses would become digitised. Tests for the license would be conducted online and the licenses would also be issued online. Moreover, the validity of a driving license has also been changed.
- Recalling of old vehicles
The amendment proposes to give authority to the Central Government to recall old vehicles which are harmful for the environment or which do not meet the safety standards.
- Strict penalties for faulty road designs and engineering flaws
There was no penalty for contractors and engineers for faulty road designs which caused accidents. However, the Bill proposes to hold contractors and design engineers accountable for faulty road designs. They might also be charged a penalty of up to Rs.1 lakh for the same.
- Increase in compensation paid to road victims
There were limits on the payments made under third party insurance. The Bill proposes to remove this cap. Moreover, for hit-and-run cases, the compensation payable has been increased. The proposed compensation for grievous injuries is Rs.50, 000 while for death it is Rs.2 lakhs or more.
- Protection of Good Samaritans
The Bills proposes protection of Good Samaritans who come forward to help the victim of road accidents. Such individuals would be protected from civil or criminal liability and they wouldn’t have to disclose their names to police or medical staff.
Advantages of the Amendment Bill
- Higher fines and stricter rules for traffic offenders would bring down the road fatality rate
- Since Driving License would be issued online, the process would become transparent
- Car manufacturers, road design engineers and contractors would face the heat if accidents are due to their fault. This would reduce the number of faulty cars as well as faulty roads bringing down the rate of accidents
- By removal of the third party liability capping, the injured party would be assured of a higher pay-out
- By holding parents responsible for juvenile accidents, the number of juveniles driving the vehicles would decrease thereby decreasing the probability of accidents
- Transport aggregators would be given statutory recognition making them popular
Disadvantages of the Bill
Though the Bill is very beneficial and would prove effective in bringing down road accidents, there are some drawbacks to it when looked closely. These drawbacks are as follows –
- Stricter penalties for road contractors and engineers might hinder construction of new roadways for better infrastructure
- For heavy transport vehicles, the minimum qualifications of drivers have been removed. Moreover, licenses for driving heavy vehicles have been made easy. This might lead to incompetent drivers getting license to drive heavy vehicles. The probability of road accidents would, therefore, increase.
The amendment Bill would prove beneficial in bringing down road accident cases despite the few drawbacks it has. Now it rests on the Rajya Sabha to approve the Bill so that it is passed and the traffic rules change for the better.