The ministry of road transport and highways is set to bring reforms to the Road Transport and Safety Act 2014. The government has proposed a transport authority (Motor Vehicle Regulation & Road Safety Authority of India), unified information systems, safety programmes and steep fines among other things, in a bid to bring down the sharp rise in road accidents and fatalities in the country.
The draft that will be debated in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament aims at ‘providing a scientifically planned and evolving framework for safer, faster and cost effective movement of passengers and freight in India’.
In first five years of its implementation, the draftl says, 200,000 lives can be saved due lesser road accident deaths, a four percent improvement in GDP can be achieved on account of increased efficiency and safety of road sector, and 10 lakh jobs can be created with increased investments.
The draft proposes also proposes setting up an independent national authority, known as the Vehicle Regulation and Road Safety Authority of India, in six months time. While this agency will be accountable to the Parliament, it will promote innovation and new technology adoption, devise innovative financing mechanisms to fund safety programmes and provide lead time for the industry to adopt new standards.
The new draft also proposes that the National Authority would create, share and maintain a unified information system for the entire country that will serve as a holistic record of all the issued driving licenses, motor vehicle registrations, insurance, vehicle data from manufacturers, permits, road accidents, offences and penalties.
It will also be involved in setting basic safety standards for the vehicles including design, construction, operation and maintenance. There will also be a more competent ecosystem for issuing licenses, encourage design, development and promotion of eco-friendly vehicles and to promote new technology for hybrid and EVs. The authority will look at crash testing of vehicles, issuing guidelines for non-motorised transport, mechanisms for vehicle recall, fuel quality, emissions, and alternate fuels too. The National Authority may issue directions to any State Safety Authority (SSA), which will be accountable to their respective governments. The SSAs, as per the newly designed draft, will have to prepare and implement a state road safety improvement plan that their governments will be tasked with funding.
The draft also proposes the creation of a single authority for improving the quality of road transportation in the form of National Road Transport & Multimodal Coordination Authority. This body will establish a planning framework for passenger/goods transportation (including grant of permits), focus on developing integrated transport systems and multi-modal hubs, feeder systems and provide for last-mile connectivity.
The draft lays down a detailed list of penalties and fines for traffic offenders. For example, using vehicles without registration as a first offence will attract a fine of Rs 25,000 and each offence thereafter, Rs. 50,000.
Other highlights are -
Punishment for offences relating to manufacturing of faulty vehicles Automaker may be slapped with a Rs. 5,00,000 fine per vehicle, or imprisonment for a term of 3 months, or both. The fine may differ on basis of the size of the vehicle.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs Rs. 15,000 fine, or imprisonment for a term of 6 months, which may be extendable to 12 months, or both, and a 6-month license suspension from the date of conviction, or the date of sentencing or release.
Driving an uninsured vehicle Two-wheelers Rs. 10,000 fine, Light Motor Vehicle & Three- wheelers Rs. 25,000 fine, other categories of motor vehicles: Rs.75,000 fine.
Violation of traffic signals 1st offence – Rs 5,000 fine; 2nd offence - Rs 10,000 fine; and 3rd offence - Rs. 15,000 fine, 1 month, license suspension, and compulsory refresher training.
Causing death Rs. 100,000 fine, and imprisonment for a term of not less than 4 years.
Causing death of a child Rs. 300,000 fine, and imprisonment for a term not less than 7 years.