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Q. Road safety bill: Discuss why the proposed amendments to Motor Vehicle Act are not sufficient to improve safety on the roads.
Aug 11, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently the central government has introduced the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill in Parliament to improve the road safety in the country.  It proposes to increase penalties against traffic violations as a deterrent measure.

Background-

  • Every year about 5 lakh road accidents are reported in the country, in which 1.5 lakh people lose their lives.
  • As signatory to the Brasilia Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals, India has committed to halve the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.

Road safety bill-

  • The proposed amendments focus on safety of children during commute, protection of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, non-motorised transport like bicycle, electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety.
  • Bill wants to create a unified driver licensing and vehicle registration system resulting in a national electronic database, higher penalties for violations, higher compensation for hit-and-run cases, and treating offences by juveniles who should not have been driving as a separate category.
  • These amendments will give the traffic police more room to enforce behaviour that could reduce the toll. However, while these amendments are necessary, these are not sufficient to improve safety on the roads.

Issues and suggestions-

  • The vital part of road safety is better road designs both on the highway and inside towns. But these aspects found no mention in amendments.
  • Urban planning of physical spaces and public transport must be integrated into traffic management to minimise accidents and casualties.
  • India’s biggest hurdle in achieving any goal is enforcement of rules and laws. Those entrusted with the task of monitoring compliance with norms relating to speeds, loads, number of hours at the wheel, etc, are routinely incentivised to look the other way.

Conclusion-

Increasing number of accidents and consequent deaths has various impacts on development of India. Hence road safety norms should be effective both in latter and spirit. The law could mandate scientific investigation of accidents and data collection. Teaching people how to drive can and must change radically. Enforcement cannot improve by changing laws, safety ultimately depends on the political will to enforce sensible regulation.


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