Hyderabad: Amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act will come into force from September 1, multiplying the penalties for traffic rule violations. This is the first significant amendment of the Act in three decades.
The penalty for not wearing a helmet has been increased five-fold to Rs 1,000 and repeat offences could cost a rider the licence. Failure to allow free passage to emergency vehicles attracts a six-month jail term or a Rs 10,000 jail term or both. Not wearing a seat belt will cost Rs 1,000 if the state government implements the law.
Traffic experts said that increasing the penalties might create awareness among motorists and force them to follow the rules. Besides, the penalties were set in the 1980-levels and needed an upgrade to keep up with the inflationary trends.
“The fine for not wearing for helmet is Rs 100 currently. People will think that rather than paying a Rs 1,000 fine it is better to buy a helmet which costs the same amount of money,” said Mr Vinod K. Kanumala, chief functionary of the Indian Federation of Road Safety and member of the World Health Organisation Legal Development Programme.
The MV Act 2019 includes features like the Good Samaritan law which insulates those who help accident victims from the legal process and suggests the creation of a motor vehicles accident fund, national register for driving licences and a national road safety board.
It is being hailed as one of the best such laws in the world but there are still certain lacunae that ought to have been fixed.
Mr Malcolm Wolfe, president of Roadkraft, an NGO that works on road safety, said the fines should be used fairly to reform errant drivers. He said over 90 per cent of accidents were caused by driver error but the new law does not insist on the application of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR) and road regulations of 1989.
“That is where the government has failed the public. Money is the priority in the Act and not preservation of life. If the 1988 Act has not been implemented to its fullest after 31 years we have to see how many years the government will take to implement the 2019 Act,” Mr Wolfe said. Nevertheless, he called the law a step in the right direction.
Hyderabad-based traffic activist Kiran Kumar Goli said the new Act did not appear to consider drunk driving, speeding or dangerous driving as important a violation as not wearing a helmet, which entails revocation of the driving licence.
He said the traffic police should crack down on errant drivers.
“Daily we see a large number of motorists driving in the wrong direction but the authorities watch it silently. If the violators are not caught, how will the new fines help,” he asked....