The Union cabinet on Friday approved changes to the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) bill, 2016 that proposes hefty penalties for various traffic offences, three-year jail for parents of minors caught driving and causing fatal accidents and a ten-fold increase in compensation for families of accident victims.
The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha last August and was referred to a parliamentary standing committee. The cabinet has endorsed nearly all the suggestions made by the panel.
The Union road transport and highways ministry that is anchoring the bill plans to bring it for passage in the parliament next week.
The amendments cleared by the cabinet pave the way for a three-fold hike in penalties for various traffic offences. For instance, drink driving – one of the leading causes of road accident deaths in India – will invite a fine of Rs10,000 from the existing Rs2,000.
Talking on your mobile phone while driving will result in a fine of Rs 5,000, up from the present Rs 1,000.
For red light jumping, driving without seat belt/helmet, the proposed fine is Rs 1,000 besides disqualification for three months of license. Lawmakers and government servants caught violating traffic rules will have to shell out twice the penalty imposed on the general public.
The bill proposes major reforms in the motor vehicle insurance sector.
- Hefty penalties of upto Rs10,000 for traffic violation such as red light jumping, talking on mobile phone, drink driving.
- Ten-fold increase in compensation for families of accident victims. They will get a compensation of Rs five lakh.
- Penalising parents of juvenile drivers.
- Taxi aggregators brought under the motor vehicle law.
- Mandatory vehicle recall policy.
- Mandatory registration of vehicles at automobile dealer’s instead of at RTO’s.
- Online issue of learner’s license to be made mandatory.
It provides specific timelines for processing of insurance claims. “A ten-fold increase has been made in the amount of compensation awarded under a simplified process of claims disbursal where the family of an accident victim would get compensation of Rs 5 lakh as settlement within four months of the accident,” road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said.
At present, it takes at least four to five years for an award.
In accidental death cases arising from hit-and-run accidents, the bill proposes an increase of compensation to Rs 2 lakh, an eight-fold increase over the current figure. “This is the single biggest reform in the motor vehicle law to usher in road safety,” Gadkari said.
In a first, taxi aggregators such as Uber and Ola have also been brought under the ambit of the proposed motor vehicle law. Violating the licensing norm will result in aggregators being fined between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
Penalising guardian or owners of minors caught driving is a new offence that has been included in the MV bill, a move aimed at curbing rising fatalities from underage drivers.
Parents of minors who are caught driving and causing fatal accident will have to shell out Rs 25,000 fine and invite a jail term of three years for allowing their ward to drive. The registration of their vehicles will also be cancelled. Besides holding the parents accountable, the minor involved will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
At present, Section 3 and 4 of the MV Act penalises the owner or person in charge of motor vehicle for allowing an unauthorised person to drive. The offence invites a fine of up to Rs 1,000 and jail term of up to three months
Indian roads continue to be one of the deadliest in the world. Seventeen people were killed every hour -- one person dead in 3.5 minutes and at least 400 in a day – in 2015.
The bill, once approved, will replace the 26 -year-old Motor Vehicle Act that was last amended in 2001.