Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017- an Analysis

Context:

Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017 is scheduled for upcoming monsoon session of parliament

Need for an amendment in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

  1. Increase in Severity of Accidents:
  • According to the Report Road Accidents in India-2016’, road accidents in India have decreased by around 4.1% in 2016 from 2015. However, fatalities resulting from these accidents have risen by about 3.2%

  • According to a World Bank report, road accidents cost India about 3% of its gross domestic product every year.
  1.  Changing Requirements:
  • When the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was framed, India’s motorisation scenario was at a nascent stage. It was felt that policies were needed to give this sector a boost.
  • Therefore, most of the provisions of the 1988 Bill revolve around movement of good and passengers
  • The Act is inadequate with increasing motorization in India
  • Further, the penalties for violation of rules is grossly inadequate for ensuring non-violation of traffic rules

     

Issue of Duplicate Licenses

  • Due to inefficiency in the licensing system, lakh of licenses are issued without prescribed checks and balances
  • Further, due to absence of a central registry, often multiple licences are held by one person for different States.
  1. The need for accountability:
  • According to Save Life Foundation, Engineering/designing fault caused 1289 accidents in 2016, killing
  • However there is no provision in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 to hold road contractors liable for defects in construction and maintenance

1.  International Commitments:

  • As a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety, India has committed to reducing, by 2020, the number of road crash fatalities and serious injuries by 50%- Sustainable Development Goal 3.6- Reduce Road crash deaths by 50% by 2020

Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017

  • The bill seeks to create an exhaustive and comprehensive legislative framework for road safety in
  • It aims to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which is the primary central legislation that regulates the licensing and registration of motor vehicles and

Key Provisions:

  1. Cashless Treatment for road accident victims-
  • The central government to develop a scheme to provide cashless medical treatment to people injured in road accidents within the first hour (‘Golden Hour’) of its

2.  Recalling of Vehicles-

  • Empowers the Central Government to recall vehicles which do not meet standards
  • Also provides for establishment of testing agencies for issuing certificates of

3.  Aggregator Licences:

  • An ‘aggregator’ has been defined as a digital intermediary or market place. The aggregators’ services may be used by a passenger to contact a driver for the need of transportation

(taxi-services)

  • According to the Bill, State Government will grant licenses to the aggregators based on the guidelines outlined by the Central

4.  National Road Safety Board:

  • The Bill introduces the National Road Safety Board. The function of the Board will be to advise the State and Central Governments on issues related to road safety and traffic management

5.  National Transport Policy:

  • The bill recommends the Central government to develop a National Transportation Policy in consultation with States. The policy should:
  1. Establish a planning framework for road transport
  2. Develop a framework for grant of permits and schemes
  3. Identify and specify priorities for the road transport

6.  Safety of Pedestrians and Non-motorised transports:

  • The Bill empowers the state governments to make rules to regulate the activities of pedestrians and non-motorised road
  • Regulation of activities in a public place of pedestrians and non-motorised road users could include the creation of special zones such as cycle tracks and footpaths, NMT lanes

7.  Safety of Children during Commute:

  • The Bill makes it mandatory for every child to be secured by a safety belt or a child-restraint system
  • It also proposes that every child above the age of 4 being carried on a two-wheeler must wear a helmet

8.  Driver’s Licensing System:

  • The Bill calls for a digitized licensing system. Further, it makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a driving licence and vehicle registration
  • Minimum educational qualifications for transport drivers has been removed
  • The time limit for renewal of driving licence is increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry

9.  Electronic Monitoring:

  • The Bill mandates the state government to ensure electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety on National Highways, State Highways and Urban

10.  Offences and Juveniles:

  • In traffic violations by juveniles, the guardians or owner of the vehicle would be held responsible unless they prove the offence was committed without their knowledge or they tried to prevent
  • The registration of the motor vehicle in question will be
  • The juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice

11.  National Registry for Licenses and Registration and National Register of Motor Vehicles

  • The Bill proposes to create National Register for Vehicle registration and National Register for Driving
  • This will facilitate uniformity in the registration and licensing process across the country

12.  Punishment for faulty Road Design, Engineering and Maintenance:

  • The Bill incorporates a provision which holds road contractors, consultants and civic agencies accountable for faulty road design, construction and maintenance. A failure to do so will make them liable to fine up to 1 lakh

13.  Penalties and Compensation

  • For deaths in hit-and-run cases, the government will provide a compensation of Rs 2 lakh or more to the victim’s family. Currently, the amount is just Rs 25,000.
  • The minimum fine for drunk driving has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.
  • The fine for rash driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.

14.  Insurance

  • A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of
  • According to the Bill, insurance company will be liable for a payment of up to INR 10 lakh in case of death and up to INR 5 lakh in case of grievous
  • Further, it does not attach any cap on liability for the third party
  • It empowers Central Government to make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance

Issues and Challenges:

  1. Cap on Liability for Third Party Insurance:
  • The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance. However, it does not cap the compensation amount that courts can
  • In cases where courts award compensation higher than the maximum liability amount, it is not clear who will pay the remaining

2.  Motor Vehicle Accident Fund:

  • Under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, compensation for hit and run victims comes from a Solatium
  • However, the bill creates a new Motor Vehicle Accident Fund. Since, a fund to provide compensation already exists, the purpose of the new fund is not clear

3.  License to aggregators:

  • According to the Bill, the State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government
  • At present, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. There could be differences in state taxi guidelines and central guidelines on

4.  Several Issues remain unaddressed:

  • The Bill does not address a number of issues on road safety. They are:
  1. Creation of road safety agencies,
  2. Improvement of road design and engineering

5.  Stricter Penalties:

  • Many critics are of the opinion that increasing fines is not sufficient to change road behaviour and ensure road

Best Practice-Sweden:

Key measures include:

  • Low urban speed-limits
  • Pedestrian zones- It has built 12,600 safer crossings along with strict policing
  • Barriers to separate cars from bikes
  • Integrated guidelines for traffic safety and crime prevention under the Traffic for an Attractive City (TRAST)

Way Forward:

  1. Penalizing is an inadequate measure for ensuring safer roads. The World health Organization (WHO) recognizes that education and awareness of the people is an important aspect for road safety.
  2. There needs to be design on road infrastructure- road design and engineering. S. Sunder committee, 2007 on Road Safety highlighted the need for scientific study of road infrastructure which includes effective road engineering solutions at the design stage, rectification of accident hot spots
  3. NITI Aayog’s recommendations on using Artificial Intelligence in Transport: It recommends investing in autonomous vehicle technology. This would help in controlling road fatalities and road congestion. It also advocates use of AI in traffic rules

For example: Recently, Dubai has AI-powered traffic control for effective enforcements of traffic regulations. It helps the police to efficiently monitor traffic violations.

  1. There is need for effective enforcement of traffic rules and regulations by the police
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