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MP Tables Road Safety Bill, Seeks Hike in Fines

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A Private Member Bill has been introduced in Lok Sabha by R K Jena, Member of Parliament from Balasore Constituency on Friday.
The Bill titled, “National Road Safety Transport and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, 2015” proposes to replace the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 with a comprehensive protective framework for all class of road users, with an aim to arrest the increasing road accidents and deaths in the country. This bill was introduced a day after five school children were killed in Bihar’s Kishanganj when a vehicle carrying them was hit by a speeding truck.
The bill also includes provision for stringent penalties for faulty road design and vehicle engineering. It also lays more emphasis on unified electronic enforcement system, provisions for protection of vulnerable road users and revised penalties for offences. In the present law, the penalties are negligible.
Key features of the Bill
l    Statutes for protection of cyclists, pedestrians and other Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs)
lThe Bill aims to enforce standards and practices for protection of all road users, especially non-motorised road users and vulnerable road users.
l    Statutes for protection of children during commute
lThe Bill provides for regulation of Child Zones, School Buses, education of children, and provides for provisions for safety of children within vehicles such as child restraints and adult accountability.
l    Robust, scientific and standardised accident investigation and data collection system
lAccident investigation and data management systems are essential to understand the causes of road accidents to take efficient and sustainable steps to mitigate them. This Bill provides for establishment of empowered agencies for its implementation.
l    Stringent punishment for faulty road design, engineering and maintenance
lThere is currently no provision for holding road owners or contractors liable for any faulty road engineering that result in accidents. This Bill aims to provide statutes ensuring defaulters are penalised severally for negligence and any other applicable criminal provisions.
l    Transparent, centralised and efficient driver’s licensing system
lThe Bill provides for having a centralized repository of all licenses in India with a Unified Biometric System, Automated Driver Testing, and a simplified, single-window licensing system.
l    Mandatory safe driving training for all
lCurrently, the method of obtaining drivers’ licenses do not have a filtration system of training or testing efficiently. The Bill provides for mandatory driving training for obtaining a license.
l    Strict regulation of Heavy Motor Vehicles (HMV’s) such as trucks, buses and lorries
lConsidering that HMVs are involved in a number of fatal accidents, their strict regulation through training of drivers, explicit penalties for HMV drivers, and periodic monitoring of licenses has been provided for in the Bill.
l    Stringent punishment for drunk-driving, over-speeding and dangerous driving
lCurrent provisions have failed to deter drivers from violating existing rules of driving under influence, over-speeding and dangerous driving. This Bill seeks to have a deterrence to minimize these offences by having strict penalties for the same.
l    Stringent punishment for violation of helmet and seat-belt laws
lCurrent provisions for helmets and seat-belts are not mandatory. Considering that violators of these provisions are involved in a number of fatal road accidents, this Bill envisages strict punishment for defaulters of these offences.
l    Establishment of an independent and empowered lead agency for road safety.
lThe Bill provides for an independent and strong agency that addresses multiple problems such as minimum safety standards for roads, road users and vehicles; recall of vehicles for faulty design and engineering; and greater accountability to the Parliament. The Road Transport and Safety Bill envisaged by the Government have a significantly weaker provision for an empowered lead agency.

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