Government approves new Motor Vehicles Bill, higher penalties for traffic offences
The new Cabinet, formed after the 2019 general elections, has approved the revised Motor Vehicles Bill. This bill was pending in the Rajya Sabha, after the Lok Sabha cleared ut in 2017, but the term change meant it had lapsed. The Bill is expected to be present to the Parliament in its upcoming session.
The big change is the much higher penalties for driving offences. Driving without a license will now call for a Rs 5,000 fine, up from Rs 500. Breaking speed limits and not wearing seatbelts can get you a Rs 1,000 fine, up from Rs 400 and Rs 100. Get caught using a phone or rash driving and you'll have to shell out Rs 5,000, up from Rs 1,000. The fine for drunk driving has been raised to Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,000.
There is more protection in the case of accidents. A compensation of Rs 2 lakh or more will be provided to hit-and-run victims, up from Rs 25,000. In case a juvenile is involved in an incident, their parents/guardians will be held accountable unless proven innocent. A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide cover to victims of accidents and a provision for the protection of Good Samaritans has also been made. Further, contractors, civic bodies and consultants will be held accountable for accidents arising out of faulty road design.
Aadhar is now compulsory for applying for driving licenses and vehicle registrations. The time limit for renewing your license will increase to a year before or after the expiry date.
Manufacturers are also more liable now. Cars with sub-standard components or engines will have to be recalled, failing which a Rs 500 crore fine will be charged. Rounding of these changes is new insurance coverages. All road users now get compulsory insurance for certain accidents, but a six-month time limit has been placed on claims.
All of these changes seem to address pertinent, long-standing issues that road-users face. This is especially important when you see how rapidly the number of vehicles on our roads have increased, and our horrific road safety record.
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