MV Act Amendment: What About Hawkers and Pedestrians?Lok Sabha has finally passed the long overdue Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill that provides for, among other reforms, hefty increases in fines for violating driving laws. It has increased the penalty for driving with a disqualified licence from Rs 500 to Rs 10000 and without a licence to Rs 5000 from Rs 500. The fine for drunken driving is put at between Rs 10000-15000. While this will deter people not qualified to drive or drunks to resist the temptation of taking the wheels, if not implemented honestly, it also has the potential of increasing the incomes of corrupt traffic cops. Previously, they used to let a person go on committing a traffic offence by taking Rs 100 or Rs 200. With fines now increased substantially, the rate on the corruption index will shoot up. Hence, more than hefty fines, what we need are honest cops who care more for lives than their own pockets.
By Sunil Garodia
The best part of the amendment is that for the first time, a car owner is sought to be held liable if an under-aged person causes a fatal accident while driving his vehicle. The car owner can be put behind bars for three years if that happens. Parents feel proud to say that their young wards can drive without realizing that controlling a car at a young age can be difficult, especially when under age drivers take an instant liking to speeding. Also, the fine for hit-and-run cases is being increased to Rs 200000 and for fatal accidents to Rs 1000000. Other good features are the creation of compulsory insurance cover to all road users for certain kinds of accidents and protection of Good Samaritans who help accident victims.
But amending the Motor Vehicles act is not the thing that is going to solve the endemic and myriad problems being witnessed on Indian roads. For instance, the footpaths in all major cities and towns are fully occupied by hawkers, forcing pedestrians to walk on the roads. It is a miracle that despite this, motorists prevent accidents. There is no discipline and public transport operators - three-wheeled autos being the worst offenders rule the roads as if they own them. Pedestrians also make things difficult for drivers by jaywalking and not crossing from zebra crossings. Hence, penalizing drivers alone cannot bring sanity on Indian roads.