The Supreme Court and the government agreed on Wednesday that stricter laws were needed to stop negligent driving, especially talking on a cell phone that distracts a driver, even with a hands-free device.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked the Centre to revisit the law to make “dangerous driving”, including use of mobile phones, even with ear plugs or through Bluetooth devices, a serious offence and punishable with a longer jail term.
The direction came after attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the court about the dangers of using the mobile phone while driving.
The court sought his views on its proposal to enhance the jail term for rash and negligent driving, saying the punishment is inadequate to stop “accidents because of the attitude, behaviour and conduct of the drivers”.
A person found guilty of causing death due to rash driving can be jailed for a maximum of two years, the law says. For dangerous driving, the punishment is six months in jail or a fine of Rs 1,000.
According to NGO Save Life Foundation, 130,000 people died in road accidents in 2011 and more than 460,000 were injured. A growing number of accidents could be attributed to drivers distracted by talking or texting on cell phones.