Hefty penalties around corner as cabinet okays road safety bill
Parents of minors caught driving and causing fatal accidents are looking at three years in jail and a fine of Rs 25,000 while the registration of their vehicles may also be cancelled.
The provision is part of the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was cleared by cabinet on Wednesday and hailed by Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari as “the single biggest reform” in the laws governing road safety.
The draft bill also entails a steep hike in penalties for traffic offences — Rs 1,000 for jumping a red light or driving without a seat belt/helmet, a 10-fold jump on the current amount. It comes with a three-month licence suspension.
In a first, the cabinet also approved the road transport and highways ministry’s proposal to bring taxi aggregators such as Uber and Ola under the ambit of the motor vehicle law. Violating licensing norms — which the ministry is currently finalising — will result in the app-based taxi services being fined between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
The ministry plans to introduce the bill, which has 68 amendments and 28 new sections, in Parliament’s ongoing monsoon session. The amendments were recommended by a group of state transport ministers set up by the Centre to review road safety rules.
Drunk driving — a leading cause of road accident deaths in India — will invite a fine of Rs 10,000, up from Rs 2,000.
The compensation for road fatalities has been fixed at Rs 10 lakh while the payout in hit-and-run cases has been increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
Seventeen people were killed every hour — at least 400 a day — on India’s roads in 2015, according to government data. The draft bill, once approved, will replace the 26-year-old Motor Vehicle Act, which was last amended in 2001.
Talking on the phone while driving will result in a penalty of Rs 5,000 instead of the current Rs 1,000.
Lawmakers and government servants will shell out twice the amount for violations.
“The steep penalties will act as a deterrent and help bring road disciple,” said Gadkari.
Making parents and guardians accountable for the crimes of their minor wards is a new section in the bill, and comes in the wake of a string of fatalities caused by underage drivers. The menace was highlighted in April when a Class 12 boy ran over a 33-year-old man while out for a joyride in his father’s Mercedes in Delhi.
At present, allowing an unauthorised person to drive one’s car invites a fine of up to Rs 1,000 and a jail term of up to three months.
The minor is tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, under which the maximum sentence for any crime is three years in a reform home.