Government is hopeful of passage of the Road Transport and Safety Bill in the current session of Parliament that proposes hefty penalties for violation of traffic norms besides stringent measures against automakers for faulty designs of vehicles. “We are trying our best that the Road Transport and Safety Bill is passed in the current session of Parliament. The draft of the Bill is ready,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. A Cabinet note has been floated and the bill is likely to be taken up soon for its nod, an official said. The draft bill, as per officials, proposes hefty penalties including Rs 10,000 for drunk driving, Rs 2,000 for speeding and Rs 1,000 for not wearing seat belts. Gadkari said the bill will help in making Indian roads safer and bring in transparency and reforms in transport sector. The minister added he was hopeful of Parliament’s nod to the crucial bill that would help India reduce road accidents by stricter rules. Indian roads witness 400 deaths every day and see nearly five lakh road accidents a year in which 1.5 lakh people die and another three lakh get crippled. “Once the law is enacted it will overhaul the road transport and highways sector bringing in more transparency and curbing malpractices,” the minister said. For drunk driving, one of the most serious offences, the bill proposes a maximum penalty of 10,000 and suspension of driving licence for three months while repeat offenders could attract imprisonment and cancellation of their licence. In case of drunk driving, the Motor Vehicles Act provides for six months’ imprisonment or 2,000 fine or both for first offence while a second offence attracts 3,000 fine or two years’ imprisonment or both. Likewise for speeding the fine has been increased from Rs 400 for the first offence to Rs 2,000. For a subsequent speeding offence, the fine has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000. Besides the fine for using phones while driving is proposed at Rs 100 for the first offence and Rs 300 for a subsequent offence. The proposal includes suspending driving licences of repeat offenders. For juvenile driving, draft bill proposes that the guardian be made liable for offence and to be treated as abetment to the crime, and even registration of the vehicle used in the offence to be canceled. The bill has been drafted as per recommendations of a Group of Transport Ministers of different states, headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunus Khan. Governments will meet next week to discuss and work out strategies to reduce road fatalities. The Group of Ministers (GoM) will decide on the revised penalties for traffic rule violations in the next two rounds of meetings.
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