India loses over 1.5 lakh lives in road traffic accidents every year, making its road network is arguably the most unsafe on the planet. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, which is currently stuck in the Parliament, is a positive step forward towards making the roads safer.
As reported in the Economic Times, the Bill proposes huge increases in various traffic violation penalties, the protection of good samaritans, the recall of defective vehicle parts by auto companies, holding builders accountable, if infrastructure quality is poor, and making vehicle owners criminally liable for violations committed by juvenile drivers.
While the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, it is stuck in the Rajya Sabha and is being opposed by various opposition parties for curtailing the powers of the state governments and favouring corporates
Here are some of the relevant proposals of the bill, and how it will change the way India drives.
1. The Aadhar card will be mandatory for getting a driving licence and a vehicle registration.
2. In the case of hit-and-run deaths, the government pays a compensation of Rs 25,000 to the families of victims. The Bill proposes that the amount be increased to Rs 2,00,000.
3. In case of traffic violations by juveniles, unless the offence was committed without their knowledge, or they tried to prevent it, the guardians or owners of the vehicle will be held responsible. Additionally, the registration of the motor vehicle will be cancelled, and the juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
4. The bill seeks to protect good samaritans. Those who help accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. They have the option to disclose or not to disclose identity to police or medical personnel.
5. An increase in the minimum drunk driving fine, from Rs 2000 to Rs 10,000.
6. An increase in the rash driving fine, from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000.
7. An increase in the minimum fine, from Rs 500 to Rs 5000, for driving without a licence.
8. The fine for overspeeding to go up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000- Rs 2,000.
9. An increase in the fine for not wearing a seatbelt, from Rs 100 to Rs 1000.
10. An increase in the fine for talking on a phone while driving, from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000.
11. A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, which will compulsorily provide insurance cover to all road users in India for certain kinds of accidents.
12. Mandatory to alter vehicles to make them suitable for specially-abled people.
13. Contractors, consultants and civic agencies will be held accountable for faulty design, construction or poor maintenance of roads leading to accidents.
14. A 6-month time limit for application for compensation to the Claims Tribunal, with regards to road accidents.
15. The removal of the cap on liability for third-party insurance, from the 2016 Bill, which had capped the maximum liability of Rs 10 lakh in case of death, and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injury.
16. The time limit for the renewal of driving licence will increase from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.
17. The government can recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards, and manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 500 crore in case of sub-standard components or engine.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)