Soon, motorists caught speeding, driving drunk or jumping red lights may not get away with a light fine and a few stern words from the traffic cop.
The punishment would get harsher as the gravity of the offence increases — a Rs 3-lakh fine and not less than seven years in jail for causing the death of a child; Rs 5 lakh in penalty and three months in jail for a manufacturing fault in a vehicle; a Rs 1-lakh fine for driving an unregistered vehicle.
All these and more are part of the new draft Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014 unveiled by the road transport ministry on Saturday. The ministry has proposed hiking penalties three-to-50-fold and other stringent action that includes suspension or cancellation of driving licence.
In the draft bill, speeding invites a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 12,500 — up from the existing Rs 400-1,000 — and suspension of licence for up to eight weeks depending on how much you have exceeded the speed limit. For instance, the steepest fine is for going 40kmph over the speed limit.
Driving under the influence comes with a fine of Rs 15,000 (currently Rs 3,000) and a jail term of up to a year. But a second offence will lead to permanent loss of licence and up to two years in jail. The penalty is especially harsh for school bus drivers — Rs 50,000 in fine and a three-year jail sentence.
Along with the fines and jail terms, drivers below 25 years stand to lose their licence for three months.
The punishment for jumping a red light is Rs 5,000-15,000 in fine and one-month licence suspension. Similarly, you pay Rs 5,000 for not wearing a seat belt.
India has one of the highest road fatalities in the world with 137,576 deaths reported last year. In the same period, Delhi recorded 7,566 accidents that killed 1,820 people. The bill aims to bring down such fatalities by 200,000 in the first five years and increase GDP by 4%.
Apart from the fines and imprisonment, motorists will be awarded penalty points for every traffic violation. Collecting 12 penalty points means losing your driving licence for a year.
The draft includes several new features in keeping with the times — fines for manufacturing faults, for instance, come in the wake of incidents of cars catching fire and vehicle recalls by auto firms.
“The bill, after it is cleared by cabinet, will be tabled in Parliament during the winter session. The proposed changes were long due as the last time the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was amended was in 2001, and since then many provisions related to offences and penalty have ceased to have any punitive effect,” said a ministry official.
Our new act gives emphasis on E-governance to bring in transparency in the transport sector— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) September 13, 2014
A Highway Traffic Regulation and Protection Force has been proposed while a motor accident fund would be set up to provide compulsory insurance to all road users. A pan-India road accident emergency access telephone number to alert and access emergency services is also in the works.