The next time you see a road accident, do not hesitate to take the injured to the nearest hospital.
To ensure protection of ‘Good Samaritans’ and bystanders who come forward to give a helping hand to victims, transport commissioner Sonia Sethi has written to all Regional Transport Offices (RTO), asking them to spread awareness about the guidelines issued by the ministry of road transport and highway.
“The Central government considers it necessary to protect such people from harassment on the actions being taken by them to save the life of a road accident victim,” the guidelines by the ministry say.
It also says that the bystanders or Good Samaritans will not be liable for any civil or criminal liability.
RTO officials welcomed the move. A senior official, who went through a bad experience after helping an accident victim a few years ago, said, “According to the new guidelines, the person who helps a victim can’t be questioned or forced to reveal his name and identity. If any government official forces him to do so, they will face disciplinary or departmental action.”
This, the official said, will help allay the fear that the police will harass them.
According to the guidelines, the bystanders and Good Samaritan should be suitably rewarded to encourage others. Also, it will be voluntary and optional for the person to disclose his/her information, even in case of medico-legal case form provided by a hospital.
While welcoming the move, experts said the guidelines could also be misused. “The government needs to ensure there are proper supporting systems, so that the accident victims get proper treatment at the earlier possible,” said Ashutosh Atrey, a road safety expert.
Every year, more than 1.25 lakh people are killed in road accidents across the country, and more than 12,500 are from Maharashtra. In most cases, victims are left to die on the roads as citizens are afraid of legal hassles.
Know your rights
* A Good Samaritan in road accidents should be allowed to leave immediately, if they take an injured person to the hospital. They should not be questioned
* They should be suitably rewarded to encourage other people to come forward to help accident victims
* No civil or criminal liability should be fixed on them
* Any person who makes a phone call to inform about the victim lying on the road, shall not be compelled to reveal his/her name and personal details
* Disclosure of personal information shall be voluntary in medico-legal case form of hospitals
* Disciplinary action will be taken against public officials who force the good Samaritan to reveal his/her name and personal details
* In case of voluntary disclosure of being a witness to an accident and required to be examined for investigation by the police or during the trial, such a person shall be examined only once and the state government shall develop an SOP for non-harassment
* The ministry of health and family welfare shall issue guidelines for all registered public and private hospitals not to detain anyone who helps accident victims for registration and admission costs, unless they are a family member or relative of the injured