Motor vehicles are an intrinsic part of our daily life now. And there is an umbrella statute, The Motor Vehicle Act, which governs their procurement, usage and disposal. Many amendments regarding enforcement have been introduced in the motor vehicle act with some relief measures also. The standing Committee on Road Safety and Transportation have observed that there were a lot of accidents happening on the road due to rash driving, driving under the influence of alcohol etc. It was essential to solve the mounting problems; hence the transport ministry issued a notification on 28th August 2019 regarding the amendments in Motor Vehicles Act, which came into effect on 1st September 2019.
Motor Vehicle Act, 2019 has brought significant amendments which attract high penalties ranging from one-month imprisonment to one year and fines ranging from Rs.500 to Rs.1000 for breaking traffic rules and negligent driving. Higher penalties will be served to the second time and repeated offenders. The significant amendments to the said Act are as follows:
Therehave also been changes related to the renewal of drivinglicense; the period for renewal is now one month instead of one year after thedate of expiry. If the revival of the license is delayed for more than a year,the driver will have to undergo a test of competence. The said Act also claimsto protect those people who provide emergency medical or non-medical assistanceto a victim, from any civil or criminal liability. The minimum compensation fordeath or grievous injury due to hit and run has been moved up substantially.
Now,the question arises that are these amendments effective or not? This question is answered in the following analysis. Few months after the implementation of the amendments, people across the nation were dissatisfied, and people had conveyed their grievances out loud, about high penalties and special treatment to VIPs by police and the department. Before implementation of any rules, the government and respective authorities should have made sure that roads were repaired, small shops from main roads were removed, and encroachments were eliminated.
National highways have many accidents due to faulty layout or construction defects like narrow service lanes, ill-planned central verges, erroneous road design, sharp curves and faulty sign ages. Conditions like poor illumination, unguarded civil work, slippery surfaces, light reflection from the front, crowding and encroachment on roads, lead to mishaps. Some highways like Yamuna Expressway need traffic inspectors to check speeding and drunken driving. This Act failed to make an impact on rural areas because motorcycles and other two- wheelers pour in from all directions and neglect the traffic rules. Majority of truck drivers are from rural areas, so they consume their alcohol and drive on the highway. Rural India accounts for 58% of accidents and 65% of road traffic-related deaths.
The ratio of traffic police to the number of vehicles is quite poor. Seventy-two thousand traffic cops manage around 7.5 million registered vehicles. Massive investment is required to improve the conditions. Moreover, the police and other law enforcer’s opinions must be taken into consideration while lighting the roads, car parking, designing, constructing. There is a kind of complete lack of coordination between the police and the municipality or PWD with respect to building roads.
Henceforth,the government and police authorities have to protect the lives of innocent people and repair the roadways in order to facilitate the smooth movement of vehicles and people. This can be only possible if the people and the authorities have the intention to do so. Uniform enforcement of Motor Vehicles(Amendment) Act, 2019, after all, is also a reflection of the political will.
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