Law

No Loud Music, No Drinking and Driving: New Draft Rules to Make Indian Roads Safer

To bring uniformity to vehicular movement, it has been proposed that all the slow moving vehicles should now drive on the left side. The draft also removes ambiguity from various aspects of road use.

Gurgaon: A view of massive traffic jam on Delhi-Gurgaon National Highway in Gurgaon on Thursday. PTI Photo (PTI8_13_2015_000220B)

For the first time, the rules have also fixed the accountability of pedestrians and cyclists and laid down that they too would have to adhere to the rules. Credit: PTI

From making drivers of vehicles liable for punishment in case there is a violation of seatbelt norms by their co-passengers, to prohibiting drinking in vehicles and playing of loud music, the new draft Rules of Road Regulation have spelt out a slew of measures to make the roads safer for all. They have for the first time also proposed holding road construction and maintenance agencies responsible for any accident or death/ injury caused due to their negligence or dereliction.

The new draft rules, presented recently before the Group of Ministers constituted by the central government to guide reforms for the road transport sector, envisage a slew of measures to make the roads safer for all users to bring down the number of deaths, which reached a high of 146,000 in 2015.

To bring uniformity to vehicular movement, it has been proposed that all the slow moving vehicles should now drive on the left side. The draft also removes ambiguity from various aspects of road use.

For example, at the junction, it has identified several shortcomings pertaining to right of way. “The law had not defined what are signals, or what should be done if the stop light is not functioning. Where are you to stop? These questions have now been answered. So the draft lays down that you either stop at the stop line, in its absence at the edge of the pedestrian crossing and if even that is not there then at the pole on which the signal is placed,” said president of Intitute of Road and Traffic Education (IRTE)Rohit Baluja.

He said the draft also spells out that if the road agencies are at fault they will be held liable. “The police had all these years demanded that the road agencies be held accountable for negligence. So if someone dies due to negligence of a road agency, then the agency would now be responsible for these accidents and deaths. The draft states that ‘wilful negligence/dereliction of duty on the part of the road owning and maintenance agencies shall be considered an offence’.”

Baluja insisted that if about 1.5 lakh people die on the country’s roads each year, as per IRTE’s estimate about 20-25 per cent of these accidents are caused by the fault of the road agencies. “But there is not one case against them in which they have been booked. So there is no responsibility.”

All that is, however, now expected to change for good.

The draft also lays down that all the offences within a vehicle will now be shouldered by the driver. It will now be the responsibility of the driver that all the passengers are wearing seatbelts as stipulated. Similarly, it will be the duty of the rider of a two-wheeler to ensure that the pillion rider is wearing protective head gear or other specified safety equipment.

The new rules also prohibit playing of loud music which can be a source of nuisance to other road users.

It also makes it clear that no driver or passenger will consume alcohol or a prohibited substance while the vehicle is parked or in motion. Similarly, smoking in a vehicle in public place would be prohibited.

For the first time, the rules have also fixed the accountability of pedestrians and cyclists and laid down that they too would have to adhere to the rules.

While on the move, the drivers of the heavy or speed restricted vehicles, would be required to drive in the left lane. The rules also spell out that solid yellow and white lines – to demarcate the lanes – would be drawn on roads to guide them and they would not be allowed to cross them. They will be allowed to change lanes only from broken lines.

The draft rules also put restrictions on reversing or driving backwards on roads, especially on one-ways.

They also provide unique provisions like calling upon the driver of two wheeled vehicles to ride with dipped headlights switched on even during the day.

All non-motorised vehicles would also be required to install reflectors and lights on the front and rear of the vehicle, to improve their visibility.

Since India is a signatory to Brasilia Declaration, it has committed itself to reducing the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50% by 2020. As the driving regulations, formulated by the central government under Section 118 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1998, were framed way back in 1989, a need to amend them was felt since much has changed in the nature and composition of traffic, and the relevant infrastructure and technology.

The Road Transport and Safety Bill was brought by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to strengthen road safety as well as improve ease of transport across the country. However, it had met with resistance from some State Governments. It was in light of this that the Group of Ministers was formed to remove any apprehensions or misgivings through the process of dialogue and to prepare a road map for achieving the deliverables.

The first meeting of the GoM was held on April 29 where IRTE, where the draft rules were presented by IRTE, which had been tasked in September 2014 by the Ministry to prepare them.

  • http://sushubh.net/ chromaniac

    So passengers in the car cannot drink beer anymore? What a mess.