Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Salient features of Motor vehicle act, 2019. How it will reduce accidents. Various issues.
Conclusion. Way forward.

With growing urbanisation and rising incomes, the number of motor vehicles in India has been increasing steadily. An increase in the number of vehicles on roads, led to an increase in the number of road accidents. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) act, 2019 amended the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to address various such issues like road safety, third party insurance, vehicle’s health, and compensation for victims of road accidents.

Salient Features of the Act to ensure safer roads:

1. Road Safety: The Act include increase penalties for traffic violations. It will act as a deterrent.

2. Vehicle Fitness: The Act includes a provision that mandates automated fitness testing for vehicles. This will improve road safety by removing unfit vehicles.

  • The motor vehicles act also proposes penalty for deliberate violation of safety and environmental regulations.
  • The act provide regulation of the process of testing and certification of automobiles.
  • It also proposes to bring agencies issuing automobile approvals to be brought under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and vehicle testing standards to be set.

3. Environmental and road health: The Act mandates the recall of defective motor vehicles if the defect may cause a threat to the environment, or the driver or other people on the road.

4. Road Safety Board: The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 provides for the setting up of a National Road Safety Board by the central government. The National Road Safety Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.

5. Protection of Good Samaritan: The Act incorporates Good Samaritan guidelines in order to help road accident victims. The act defines good samaritan as a person who provides emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a road accident victim and provides rules to prevent harassment of such a person. Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.

6. Compensation for road accident victims: The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour (time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury), during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.

7. Compulsory insurance: The act requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.

8. National Transportation Policy: The central government may develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with state governments. The Policy will establish a planning framework for road transport and will specify priorities for the transport system.

9. Taxi aggregators: The Act defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services). These aggregators will be issued licenses by state governments.  Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.

How Motor Vehicle Act, would help in reducing ever rising number of road accidents?

1. Harsher penalties would protect the safety of road users as well as pedestrians.

2. It sends a clear message to the public that people must follow rules and laws on roads.

3. Since many people are afraid of being put to jail for such a long period of time and some car lovers cannot live without their driving license, they don’t want to commit such a criminal offence.

4. People believe that tougher penalties can take dangerous drivers off the road.

5. A large number of vehicles, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and four-wheelers, in cities are without complete documentation as demanded by law. The amendment would help in reducing illegal vehicles and road accidents.

Motor Vehicle Act, 2019 may not lead to lesser road accidents as:

1. In this framework, punishment is seen as an end in itself. Very few punishment systems seek to change the offender’s behaviour and help him to a new path.

2. Studies show that 60% of those who are set free after serving a prison sentence will be rearrested within three years. Studies in Canada show that more than 30% of those who drive under the influence of alcohol are repeat offenders. There is no reason to believe that this trend of repeat offence will be any better in India.

3. Most repeat crimes today are a game-like scenario where the offender tries several innovative ways to avoid the long arm of the law. Every time he successfully manages to dodge the law, there is a dopamine release that leads to jubilation. This dopamine high leads to an urge to repeat.

4. The few times you get caught, it is seen as being not smart enough. People who are caught and punished are not quietly learning to change their offending behaviour, but they quickly learn how not to get caught the next time.

5. Imposing penalties may only bring out a short term effect to the problem. People will forget about it in the long run.

6. Traffic signals at road intersections are routinely faulty and take days before they are repaired.

Way forward:

1. Strict and effective enforcement of the amended rules in Motor Vehicle Act would surely help in curbing road-accident related deaths in India.

2. The central and state governments should work out proper plans to effectively implement the rules.

3. State governments should ensure transparency and provide a hassle-free experience for citizens at the Regional Transport Offices.

4. Vehicle manufacturers should update their technologies and adopt the best global practices regarding vehicles’ and passengers’ safety.

5. Simultaneously, the rise of Internet of Things-enabled, connected cars in India, which international auto majors are heavily investing in currently, can give a digital edge to road safety. With an array of embedded sensors informing drivers of other on-road cars, onboard analytics can give them real-time driving suggestions to avoid collisions.

The Standing Committee on Transport had observed that the majority of accidents being caused due to driver’s fault may be erroneous. Other reasons for road accidents include fault of drivers of other vehicles, defect in condition of motor vehicle etc. Motor Vehicle Act, 2019 seek to address these issues through stringent penalties and provisions.