The Parliament of India passed the new Motor Vehicle Act in July 2019, and it ensured that it is all over the news once it came into force on the first day of September.
Whatsapp and Twitter servers had big time-sharing memes and information about the exorbitant traffic challans all over the country. Some welcome it as the resurgence of the rule of law on the roads, while others blame it on Mahesh Babu’s super hit movie 'Bharat Ane Nenu’ for this idea. No matter on which side one stands, this new act is much more than challans.
The Golden Hour
The Golden Hour is the period immediately after an accident during which the treatment can save the victim's life. The bill provides for cashless treatment in such cases of accidents. Good Samaritans, who help the victims after the accident, cannot be harassed anymore
The bill also increases the compensation amount for the 'hit-and-run’ case victims to ₹2 Lakhs (death) and ₹50000 (grievous injury)
Motor Vehicle Accident Fund
An accident fund will be created so that insurance can be provided to all road users. This fund will be used for 'golden hour,' 'hit-and-run' victims, and other compensations.
Now one might be surprised that there was no law governing Ola/Uber style cab aggregators until now. They were functioning as an ordinary app-development company. This law brings them under the ambit, and rightly so. If millennials are now taking Ola/Uber, they still have their 'Right to Safety' intact.
All newly manufactured vehicles will be marked with invisible dots to create a unique code. This would help identify the parts of the vehicle in the cases of vehicle theft.
If the government identifies and declares a vehicle unfit for driving, citing danger to self, others, or environment, the vehicle can be recalled from the road. In such cases, the manufacturer will have to provide a new vehicle to the owners or reimburse the entire amount.
If the vehicle design fails to comply with the new Motor Vehicle Act, the manufacturer may be penalized up to ₹100 crores!
In addition, if the road design happens to be faulty, the builder may be fined up to ₹1 lakh.
In order to set this business properly, a 'Road Safety Board' will be created under the new 'National Transportation Policy.'
One big issue I feel in the country is that everything has to be drafted, even if it is obvious. Not many might know, but the first-ever election conducted using EVM was declared unconstitutional because the constitution said: "The ballot papers shall be counted."
This act has one similar provision that government can now allow several applications online. It involves applying for driving license, road tax in case of inter-state driving, vehicle registration, etc.
Government has also launched the app 'm-Parivahan' to satisfy some needs of a common traveler.
This is the real fuss about the act. Challans hiked to as much as ten times than the 1988 levels. This entirely justifies the hike per se. It has been 40 years since the last significant change. The government can now hike it to 10% every year.
The changes regarding helmets, juvenile driving, and drunk driving are most welcome.
People complaining about the challans being too high are failing to understand that there is an option. That option is not to violate traffic rules and have all your documents ready!
The act did not garner widespread support from people. Maybe we all want the change but do not want to be the part of it. Fearing public sentiments- Maharashtra, UP and Gujarat have diluted several provisions. These are states ruled by the party at the center. The Road and Highways Minister, the Home Minister and the Prime Minister himself come from these states. All other states have also abstained from enforcing this.
The Final Word
The anguish people have for challans is unjustified. However, some penalties are subjective. For example, not giving side to the ambulance attracts fine. It would be good to keep those fines high where police can provide evidence to the violator, like helmet issues.
Lastly, this act is for us and our safety. India loses as much as 3% of GDP every year due to road accidents. The most common age group of death-by-accident is 18-40. It ruins the family, the society, and the country as a whole. When sense does not prevail on its own, laws have to ensure it does.
As a great superhero Spiderman said, "With great power comes great responsibility," this is our time to realize our responsibility on the roads with the freedom we have in this great country.