Lok Sabha passes Motor Vehicles (Amendment) bill to discipline road users
The parliament on Wednesday approved the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 that aims to improve road discipline by tightening the rules and increasing penalties. The bill, moved by Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, was passed in the Rajya Sabha as an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. The first amendment bill for the same was passed in 2017, but was not cleared by the Rajya Sabha, and finally lapsed after the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Under the amendment, the revised penalties are as under:
Driving without a license - Rs 5000,
Driving without wearing seat belt - Rs 1000
Dangerous driving - Rs 5000
Not giving way to emergency vehicles - Rs 10,000
Drunken driving - Rs 10,000
Over-speeding - Rs 1000 for light motor vehicles, Rs 2000 for heavy vehicles
Driving uninsured/with expired insurance – Rs 2000
Finally, if juveniles driving a vehicle cause an accident, the owner of the vehicle will be held liable and prosecuted accordingly.
Justifying the move, Gadkari said that the increase in fines will also increase the revenue for that particular state, which in turn will be credited in a proportionate manner towards improvement of road infrastructure. This has a dual purpose, as the government too understands that not all accidents are caused by driver error/negligence, and the condition of the road and transport infrastructure also plays a significant role. Hence, the new bill seeks to fix liability of contractors for faulty road designs, along with the setting up of a National Road Safety board to advise the Central and State Governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.
Besides that, the new law also talks about ‘Good Samaritans’ defining them as anyone coming forward to help a road accident victim, a move likely to encourage bystanders to help in road accidents without fear of being unfairly targeted by police/insurance agencies. The bill also increases the maximum liability for third-party insurance in case of an accident at to Rs 5 lakh, instead of the current cap of Rs 50,000, along with an eight-time increase in compensation in hit-and-run cases.
Additionally, under the new law, taxi aggregators such as Uber and Ola will now have to get licence from the Governments of the States they operate and also conform to the Information Technology Act of 2000. However, there will be no need for such a permit for electric buses or taxis, which basically means that it is aimed for wider adoption of electric vehicles, and even more usage of biofuels, both of which will also help the environment.
Lastly, there are also proposals for the increase of the validity of driving licenses, as well as making Aadhar compulsory for obtaining a driving license.