How the new law aims to make roads safer

Rajya Sabha has passed stringent motor vehicle amendment bill

GN Bureau | August 1, 2019


#Nitin Gadkari   #Motor vehicle amendment bill   #Law   #roads   #traffic  
Photo Courtesy: nitingadkari.org
Photo Courtesy: nitingadkari.org

India tops the list of countries witnessing the highest number of road accidents, and more lives are lost to traffic accidents than to any other cause. The motor vehicle amendment bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, is a welcome move to make roads safer.

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, through Twitter, congratulated “every citizen on passing of 'The motor vehicle amendment bill' which will pave way to safer roads. I am thankful to the members of the house who realised the gravity of the subject and voted in the favour of the bill”.

The bill has a mix of penalties to discourage some of the practices leading to accidents. As for the common road user, the penalties for various offences like drunk driving, talking on mobile phone while driving and driving without a licence have been raised steeply. On the other hand, there are penalties relating to service providers, like holding contractors and agencies responsible for road accidents due to faulty construction and potholes, and even black-listing the errant contractor.

On the positive side, there are also design solutions like bright paints and tape markers to enhance road safety.

The road transport and highways minister has done what can be done from his ministry, but state police forces need to complement his efforts. Firstly, there are not enough policemen on ground. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development, 5.43 lakh police posts were vacant across the country at the beginning of 2018 – with Uttar Pradesh itself having 1.29 lakh personnel fewer than required. As a result, there are vast stretches of roads in metros that are not monitored by traffic police. This can render any hike in penalty ineffective.

Reacting on Twitter, citizens have also complained of corruption. A higher penalty opens up more room for graft. Citizens too, on the other hand, inculcate traffic discipline, the lack of which is the root cause of high fatalities.
 

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