Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act : Taming the Indian Roads #TrafficLaw

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Challenging Indian Roads : Driving on Indian roads can be challenging. Not many drivers care to follow traffic discipline. Lane driving is an alien concept and jumping traffic signal is a norm. Juveniles drive with impunity. Drunk drivers often brazen their way out. Even an extra careful driver, may not have any clue of another vehicle being on the wrong side. A driver’s licence can be procured easily, even when impounded. Vehicle owners do not bother to get pollution under check certificate, many do not purchase an insurance. Those who do, may not bother to pay premium after one year. Overloaded, unfit vehicles, can be seen plying on roads. According to estimates as many as one hundred thousand plus people die of road accidents in India every year and as many four hundred thousand get injured.

Motor Vehicles Act : In this grim scenario, many of us who had to drive extensively heaved a sigh of relief when the Government of India recently implemented the newly-introduced Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019, which came into effect from September 1. Hope was that the law would improve road behaviour and promote road safety as a discipline. A list of traffic rule violations and penalties that would accompany them from 1stof September is given in Table below. For comparison penalties that were in vogue prior to September 2019, have also been included.

Violation

Penalty (Rs) Prison / Licence DQL
Old

New

Modifiable By State Governments

General First Time Offence 100 500
General Second Time Offence 300 1500
Disobeying Order of Authority 500 2000
Aggregators (Violation of licencing conditions 25000 – 100000
Violation of Road Rules 500 – 1000
Driving without licence 500 5000
Driving Unauthorised Vehicle without Licence 1000 5000
Driving despite disqualification 500 10000
Speed Violation LMV 400 2000
Speed Violation HPV 400 4000
Racing (First Offence) 500 5000 3 mos
Racing (Second Offence) 500 10000 12 mos
No Registration 5000 10000 6 mos
No seat belt 100 1000
No Helmet 100 1000 3 mos
No insurance First Time 1000 2000 3 mos
No Insurance Second Time 1000 4000 3 mos
No Pollution Under Check Certificate 10000
Overloading of 2 Wheelers 100 2000 3 mos
Emergency vehicle passage NA 10000 6 mos
Seizing vehicle by force or unlawfully 500 5000
Mentally / Physically Unfit Driver Ist Time 200 1000
Mentally / Physically Unfit Driver IInd Time 500 2000
Accident Related Nil 5000 – 10000

States Governments Cannot Alter

Drunk Driving – First Offence 2000 10000 6 mos
Drunk Driving – Second Offence 15000 24 mos
Juvenile Driver NA 25000 36 mos
Dangerous Driving Signal jumping / Rash Driving – First Offence 1000 1000 – 5000 6 to 12 mos
Dangerous Driving Signal jumping / Rash Driving – Second Offence 1000 10000 24 mos

For details look here

Visible Benefits : Since the law came into force, it has been reported that in many cities, driving has become more disciplined. Many car owners have queued up to obtain pollution under check certificate, there has been as much as 20% increase in application for renewal of driving licences, and a 500% increase in renewal of vehicle insurance policies. Police have in different states have collected hefty fines from violators. From Rs. 7.2 million in Bangalore to 14 million rupees in Haryana and Odisha since enforcement drive has started.

Well Deliberated Act : Many had argued that the new motor vehicles amendment was introduced unilaterally without much discussion and deliberation. It is important to note that this new act was first introduced in 2017. But it did not get cleared in the Rajya Sabha where government did not have majority. Subsequently, the act was studied by the select committee of parliament, it has been discussed with transport secretaries and transport ministers of different states, and in 2019 the act was passed by both houses of parliament to become a law.

Political Push Back : Despite perceived positive benefits of new traffic vehicle amendment act of the BJP lead NDA government at the centre, the first push back came from state governments. While opposition by some state governments namely that of West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh was not surprising, as these states are ruled by Trina Mool Congress and Congress, respectively. Similarly, Odissa, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala are also ruled by non BJP governments. But one cannot but be surprised by stance taken by chief ministers of BJP ruled states like Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Mr. Rupani, the chief minister of Gujarat, was the first to reduce provisions of penalties, that were under control of states, drastically. BJP chief ministers can no longer take moral high ground of belonging to a party with a difference that valued discipline over populism. Like politicians and parties they often criticise, BJP ministers would much rather cling to their seats, throw a few lacs of rupees when a life is lost, and hope to be re-elected. It is a reflection on us voters that we vote into power such leaders who value power over life of citizens.

Efforts to Alter Behaviour Alone has been Ineffective : Many, mostly politicians, have argued that instead of penalising drivers, government should try to bring about a change in behaviour of drivers. India is not a police state, they have argued. There is no denying fear of penalty will only go so far. But it is worth noting that for the past so many years Indian government has treated all kind of offences mildly with the hope of a change in behaviour. As a result, the power of Indian state has decimated to such an extent that there is not much respect for the rule of law anymore. Anyone with money and muscle power can defy a law officer and even beat him up. Anyone could get away by paying a negligible fine and / or bribe. Cases that reach the court drag on for decades. Even a licence impounded in one state can be renewed in a different state.

Corrupt Enforcement : Many have argued that stiff traffic penalties will be exploited by traffic police. It will be a source of easy bribe money. There is no denying that law enforcers in India often work in an arbitrary and brutal manner, when they are sure that there is no media glare. A driver can be pulled down and implicated under a false charge to extract money. This is a real possibility and authorities must think of arriving at a proper procedure to penalise a driver. The whole process should be recorded on a body camera and monitored by a control room. Driver should be able to get a copy of the proceedings on demand.

Need to Educate Voters : While looking at stiff penalty introduced by government of India, I looked for penalty charged by other countries for traffic violations. Although, financial situation of India cannot be compared with those of many developed foreign nations, also the level of traffic infrastructure in these places are also qualitatively much superior, and there is preponderance of corruption among Indian traffic police men. Still, as shown in the table, Indian traffic violation penalty is still much lower compared to US, UK and European nations.

Comparative Traffic Fines (Rs.)

Country Signal Violation Over Speeding Drunk Driving No Parking Violation Driving w/o Licence Driving w/o Insurance
India 5000 2000 10000 1000 5000 2000
Singapore 25877 7736 258771 517543 51754
Hong Kong 5505 2936 229376 18350 91750 33030
UK 8677 8667 216929 7809 86671 26031
Germany 7101 789 118359 5523
Japan 6094 23699 677115 13542 203134
US 3598 10794 179905 5397 21558 107943
Ref : For details look here.

Many Indians, including politicians, when they visit foreign shores, they pay up the penalty charged. Politicians those who argue against implementation of stiff penalty for traffic violation, on the ground that such a high penalty is not affordable, never try to convince errant drivers that :

  • wearing a helmet or putting on seat belt are not herculean tasks;
  • no penalty should be affordable;
  • If a person cannot pay penalty, he should not break the law;

Non Modifiable Components of the Act : We must thank god that penalty accrued due to (i) driving under influence, (ii) dangerous driving and (iii) offence committed by juvenile drivers cannot be changed by states governments. As it stands today, if police arrives on time and collects the right evidence, a drunk driver or a juvenile driver or a dangerous driver may still have to face the music of the law.

Summary : I think the current motor vehicle amendment act is long over due step to streamline chaotic Indian roads. There is no doubt that a lot has to improve in control and management of traffic in India. On one hand, drivers have to be made aware serious consequences of traffic violations and consequent loss of life. On the other hand, quality of infrastructure has to improve, traffic managers have to be sensitised and the process of traffic violation and the process of penalty collection must be transparent. Now that drivers are making an attempt to renew licences, obtain pollution under control certificate and purchasing insurance, and law enforcers are collecting fines from defaulters, it is time to plough back the money into the system to strengthen traffic infrastructure. Let us hope better sense prevails. Though there is a lot of opposition, I think the law is for greater common good.

Note : I am participating in #MyFriendAlexa @blogchatter

This post is written in response to Indispire prompt. More posts on the topic may be found here.

Resources

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/100-days-of-nda-govt-amended-motor-vehicles-law-to-bring-discipline-on-roads-1567938110850.html

https://www.acko.com/articles/traffic-rules-violations/updated-list-of-penalties-for-traffic-violations-in-india/

https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/from-driving-without-a-speed-belt-to-overloaded-vehicles-know-all-new-fines-on-various-traffic-offences/story/376589.html;

https://www.news18.com/news/india/20-rise-in-licence-renewals-delhiites-crowd-transport-office-to-avoid-heavy-fines-after-new-traffic-rules-2300217.html

https://www.indiatimes.com/auto/current/vehicle-insurance-renewal-increased-375377.html

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/traffic-police-book-6813-cases-collect-over-70-lakh-as-fine-in-six-days/article29377997.ece

Traffic fines in India compared with US, UK – By Police

 

49 thoughts on “Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act : Taming the Indian Roads #TrafficLaw

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      1. It’s insane how much they have increased the fine. I really don’t understand if it’s good or bad for the citizens. I feel it will lead to more corruption than it would do good. Nicely written well researched article though. Thanks for sharing. #MyFriendAlexa #CloudandSunshineReads

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      2. I wish I could agree with you on this but India neither has the technology nor the procedure to tackle the rampant corruption issue. And what I really feel is that the government is just raising funds by this ruthless rule. There’s a tiktok video circulating where a man is seen saying that if people were given money to abide the rules then the rule would have been greatly followed. Ironically I somehow feel this to be true. I have seen people looking for loopholes in the rule and finding ways to evade it already. And when there’s not enough no. of agencies or petrol pumps which have license to provide the pollution certificate, the kind of crowd the little no. of those which have are inviting is insane. Raising a fine for creating pollution is a genuine good move but don’t you think the government should have built a proper machinery for getting a pollution certificate easily first?

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      3. I feel getting your vehicle insured should be a personal choice just like we get our life insured. I don’t see any rule which says every person’s life should be insured. Why would I buy an insurance policy for a vehicle I bought second or third hand? As I said it’s just another way of raising funds by the government. Imposing rules without having a proper system in place is just useless and shows exactly how much thought the government has put before getting this rule out. I don’t say that we shouldn’t follow rules. I’m all about rules and regulations and all my papers are updated even before this rule was out. But I’ve seen people splitting their hair on this.

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      4. Because if you get into an accident who is going to pay? It is insurance companies that settle claims. Medical insurance is your choice. You are getting affected alone or your family. Car insurance is needed because you are hurting a third party and killing him.

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      5. Procedures can be created and technology acquired. In Metro cities body camera is being used. I think it is unfair to say government is raising money. When Tpt minister has clearly said money will be used to bolster traffic infrastructure. Besides, fine is not a norm. If you don’t want to pay fine don’t break law. Finally I find it strange that you want government to set up. Pollution control centers first. These centers exist. People never used get their vehicles checked,. Now they are. Who stopped people from buying an insurance or carrying license and registration papers? By the way pollution centers are existing since 1998when I started driving and getting my certification done at regular interval.

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      6. I have no stake other than coming home safe. A few weeks before I was hit by a drunk driver from behind. Instead of agreeing to compensate or atleast saying sorry he tried to beat me up.

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  1. India is a law fearing country and not a law loving country. Expecting Indians to change their behavior proaactively is futile. Fear of heavy fine can drive them to follow the rules. The law enforcers need to be equally strict. Chandigarh is one city where traffic rules are strictly followed because of strict implementation of law. Hope the love for law gets into the blood of next generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have simplified the whole Amendment Act with such ease. Your hard work researching the data for this article can be seen and I really appreciate it. As for this act, it has been brought out by the government with goodwill and I hope that it brings a wave of ‘vehicle driving discipline’ which is the need of our country. The only thing which I am worried about this Act is the execution part. Fingers Crossed
    #readbypreetispanorama

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  3. I know there is a possibility of corruption but I feel increasing fines is good. Last time when I was in auto, driver gave way to an ambulance. When asked about it first thing he mentioned about 10000 rs fine. The way it is creating fear in people’s mind is well and good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and leaving your opinion. Yes this is the first step. A massive sensitization and education drive should be initiated. I heard driving and road safety will be part of school curriculum.

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  4. Completely agree with you, if you don’t want to pay fines, don’t break the rules. We have so many juvenile drivers driving SUV’s, I always wanted rigorous punishment for the parents.
    And as per corruption per say, if people fear fines and don’t break laws, no one will get a chance of corruption.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. State governments have reduced the penalty where they can. Drunk driving, dangerous driving and juvenile driving, states cannot change.

      Like

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