Motor Vehicle Act: Life v/s Fines

The new Motor Vehicle Act is recently passed by the Parliament in August 2019. The new law is stringent and stricter. According to several government officials and media this was much needed law. Indian road traffic conduct are often complained by the foreigners. that people drive rash, without licence, being drunken. Traffic rules are not followed and people on motorized vehicles don’t care about the pedestrians .

Need of the Act

In the year 2017 alone, 1.5 lac people lost lives due to road accidents. About 1 cr people got injured or permanently got disabled. About 15 lac people lost lives during the last decade. Therefore, it was important to build up a mind set of discipline and of compliance to the rules .

Features of the Act

The act is based on the recommendations of the Transport Ministers of the States. The State governments are free to make their own laws and rules.

  1. The Act deteRs. people from violations of traffic rules.
    • For riding without helmet fine has increased from Rs.100/- to Rs.1000/-.
    • For speed racing, fine plus imprisonment upto 3 months is imposed.
    • For offences by juveniles fine upto Rs.25,000/- and 3yeaRs. of imprisonment of parents are imposed. The juvenile will be tried under Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and the registration of vehicle for 12 months would be cancelled.
  2. Heavy fines for drunken driving, driving without licence, dangerous driving and over speeding.
  3. These penalties will increase by 10% every year.
  4. The renewal date of driving licences has been extended from 1 month to 1 year.
  5. Owner of a motor vehicle who alters it by way of retrofitting of motor vehicles parts in a manner not permitted under the Act shall be punished with imprisonment of a term that may extend to 6 months (and/ or with fine of Rs.5,000/- per such alteration).
  6. The Act protect those people who render emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim of an accident, from any civil or criminal liability.

Expected positive outcomes of the Act

Few of the provisions of the Act is very efficacious i.e. Sections 161, 199(A), 134(A).

  • Section 161 include ‘Hit and Run case’. Earlier for hit and run penalty was imposed of Rs. 25,000. But the MV Act imposes penalty of Rs.2 lakhs. The amended provision is useful because with Rs.2 Lakhs the victim of the road accident can have his/her proper medical treatment but not with Rs.25,000/-.
  • Section 199A- provision for the punishment of parents in the case of crime committed by juvenile. Therefore, this Act has tried to fix the accountability.
  • Section 134A-  the provision of protection of person who wants to help the victim of a road accident from civil or criminal liability directly affects the morale of people. The schemes of the government becomes efficacious only when they affect the mindset and behaviour of the people. This provision undoubtedly intends to inculcate humanitarian attitude in the people.

Lives at the end of the day matteRs..

Road accident is a major public health issue. It is like a pandemic. People who loose their lives on road are 60% pedestrians or cyclists. These people can’t afford the motorised vehicles. People who sleep on the footpath loose their lives or get physically disabled with expensive vehicle going over them. These people have to spend a lot of money due to disability because someone chose to drink and drive or drive speedy cars without following any rules. Therefore it is important to introduce some penalties to stop the people the way they are behaving.

Are high fines a solution?

Imposition of high fines for breaking the Motor Vehicle law is not a long term solution. It will increase the rate of corruption and also the loss of trust on the government. Therefore, it is important to build infrastructure that meets legal requirements. This will include the condition of roads, traffic signals, signage and cautionary markings which affect motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. 

To tackle corruption, human intervention in deciding the crime or deciding the violation of the rule should be minimised and use of technology should be promoted. Technology can be used in such a way that questions of discretion or dispute are minimised. 

Modern technologies include:-

  1. Real-Time Traffic Monitoring :- This technology illustrates where public buses, taxis, and other modes of transit are located, it shows where parking spaces are available, and so on.
  2. Smart Corridors :- Certain sections of the road alert the drivers of the upcoming traffic conditions, including any accidents that lie ahead, time required to reach the destination, weather events and other obstacles. Smart corridors keep motorists “in the know” so that they can plan ahead, which in turn can help to ease traffic.
  3. Adaptive Traffic Signals:- Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) technology plays an efficient role in traffic management. This technology uses data from government vehicles to improve the timing of traffic lights throughout their city. Government fleets are outfitted with individual devices that collect and transmits the movement, speed, and other data points from individual government cars throughout the city. This program gives city officials detailed insight on how long vehicles sit idle at traffic lights and this information can be used to make travel throughout the city more efficient and environmentally sustainable.
  4. Pedestrian tracking system:- Cities like Las Vegas are using advanced V2I technologies to track how many vehicles pass throughout an intersection at different times and how many pedestrians cross the street (particularly those who are jaywalking). This information can help city planners find patterns in pedestrian traffic so they can time lights or shift traffic flow to less populated areas of the city as needed.

Also, to tackle corruption State governments need to reform their Regional Transport Authorities, since these offices are generally steeped in corruption.

Nudge policy like Swachhata campaign with all stakeholders ( citizens who travel on road) involved will definitely make difference in people’s attitude and behaviour. 

Solving Traffic to save lives.

At the end, it should be realised that life is most precious. Road accidents resulting in untimely death or permanent disability banish all aims, goals or desires of the victim as well as of the family members. Many times demise from the road accident leaves the family in poverty if the victim is bread earner for the family. Physical disabilities due to road accidents doesn’t allow people to live a healthy and normal life. They have to continually spend a large amount of money in healthcare which would otherwise be used in some other productive works like education. Therefore, it’s a high time that Indian people should behave in

Humanitarian Manner while travelling on road.