If you jump a traffic light, speed or drive while using your mobile phone, beware, you might soon end up having your license suspended
New Delhi: Motorists will no longer be able to get away with mere payment of fines for traffic violations like speeding, jumping a traffic light and using a mobile phone while driving. A special panel set up by the Supreme Court of India to monitor and measure implementation of road safety laws in the country has decreed that drivers guilty of these everyday offences should have their licenses suspended. And where motoring offences are more serious, it has asked the government to ensure the imprisonment of traffic violators under relevant provisions of the law.
The Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan has held that unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, violation of helmet laws and seat belt laws, the use of mobile phones while driving, and over loading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high.
It has therefore asked the Chief Secretaries of all states and Union territories to take “stern action against the violators of the law and exercise discretion under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 by passing an order disqualifying the offender from holding a driving license for a specified period and also by seeking imprisonment wherever it is provided under the law.”
The committee has issued specific instructions to all states and UTs and their concerned departments to suspend the licence of a driver for a period of not less than 3 months under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 for driving at a speed exceeding the specified limit, which in the Committee’s view would also include red light jumping; carrying overload in goods carriages and carrying persons in goods carriages; driving vehicles under the influence of drink and drugs; and using mobile phone while driving a vehicle.
The panel has also directed that in case of driving a vehicle under the influence of drinks or drugs, the police should prosecute the offender and seek imprisonment as prescribed under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988—even for the first offence.
It has also directed that helmet laws be made applicable all over the country both for main and pillion riders. In case the helmet law is violated by either the main rider or the pillion rider, they should both be subject to Road Safety Education and Counselling for not less than 2 hours before imposition of a fine as prescribed under the Act.
Similarly, it said, those who violate the seat belt law should also be subject to Road Safety Education and Counselling before imposition of a fine as mentioned above.
The committee has also directed the States and UTs to submit Action Taken Reports at the end of every three months, beginning September 1, 2015.
The panel earlier held detailed discussions with the relevant Central ministries and all States and UTs on the trend of road accidents and fatalities. It noted from the data that the number of fatalities in India continues to be very high, causing serious emotional trauma and economic loss to the families of the deceased and to society. As a consequence, the compensation awarded to accident victims by insurance companies also ran into hundreds of crores of rupees every year.
While over the last year, the committee issued directions for the establishment of institutional arrangements to promote road safety, undertake engineering measures to make roads safe, tighten enforcement together with promoting road safety education and establishing adequate trauma care facilities, it decided to spell out specific punishments to deal with traffic violators as a detailed analysis revealed that “unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with over speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, violation of helmet laws and seat belt laws, use of mobile phones while driving, and over loading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high”.
The Supreme Court, while constituting the committee, had also emphasised the necessity of strict and faithful enforcement of all existing laws and norms not only as an absolute principle of law but for the salutary effect this would have all around.
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