Story Of The Week

The Motor Vehicle Act: Driving made costly

By the time you finish reading this article, two people would have died and eight would have been severely injured on Indian road as per the Ministry Of Road Transportation and Highways (MORTH).

The Motor Vehicle Act has recently been amended by the government resulting in a huge hike in penalties for not abiding by the traffic regulations. While the Government has been defending the increment for making the roads safer, the common people are facing a huge dent in their wallets.

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Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

Why this amendment?

Do you know how many people actually lose their life on Indian roads?

The number in 2017 was,

  • More than the fatalities in the Afghan war since 9/11
  • More than twice the number of deaths due to HIV AIDS in India
  • More than thrice the number of deaths due to snake bites in the entire world
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Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

 Indian roads have become a liability in terms of the safety that it is supposed to offer. Drivers cannot afford to be negligent on roads, as the impacts of such instances not only costs one’s own safety but also the safety of fellow co-riders. So, what can possibly bring about a change in the attitude of drivers towards road rules and force them to be adherent? If not for the amendment from the existing Act, there wouldn’t be a correction in the graph’s trend.

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Source: The Economic Times

Ramifications on roads:

What do we mean when we say that the amendment has a great impact on a middle-class person’s life. To put it in simple terms, consider an instance where a person who owns a 2-wheeler drives without his helmet, forgets his wallet which has driving license and insurance copy, he is liable to pay a fine of Rs.7500 for the first time and a penalty of Rs.10500 if the same offense occurs for the second time. Previously, the same set of blunders would have attracted a fine of just Rs.1500. The gravity of the situation can now be perceived very well. The above instance is just a simple example of a frequently-occurring blunder. But there are instances where a truck driver attracted a fine of Rs.2,00,000 in Delhi because not only the truck was overloaded but also the driver failed to carry any relevant documents.

Does the onus lie only on the citizens?

Road accidents and deaths can be minimized, not only by imposing fines on the drivers but also by improving the efficiency and infrastructure on roads. The government has to make comprehensive efforts to minimize the number of road accidents. What can the government possibly improve?

  1. Surveillance improvement by increasing the number of CCTVs installed.
  2. Every minute is precious in a road accident. Accident fatalities decrease with an increase in the speed of treatment in the golden hour. Rural regions, where there is poor infrastructure, are more prone to deaths caused by accidents and with fewer facilities of hospitals and ambulance services, the survival rate of the victims of the accident is low.
  3. Many accidents occur due to glitches on the road, like potholes due to stagnant rainwater which arises due to poor drainage facilities
  4. Strict implementation of license issuance norms.
  5. Synergies between various government departments like telephone, water, drainage, etc to avoid unnecessarily digging of roads. 
  6. Installing overhead bridges with lifts for people to cross the roads.
  7. An increase in the number of flyovers reduces the waiting time in signals. This saves the driver from frustration, which is the reason for many accidents due to over-speeding.
  8. Street vendors Act aims for better livelihood of street vendors giving them permission to sell on a pedestrian path which hampers pedestrians’ safety and goals of motor vehicle act. Synergies between ministries and consensus are required.

Way Forward

While the Government has made the amendments with the intent that stricter regulations blended with increased fines would make the vehicle users more responsible, the extent of increment in fines is not being clearly justified. Moreover, the accountability of the current situation of road accidents cannot be mere of the road users, but also of other stakeholders including road construction contractors and Government. Thus, better regulations equipped with better roads and better compliance of rules would make Indian roads safer. 

Reference

  1. The Hindu
  2. Economics Times
  3. Livemint
  4. Firstpost
  5. Egazette
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