Now anytime a four year old child goes pillion riding on a scooter or motorcycle, it is mandatory that he wears a helmet. This proposal is a part of the government’s ambitious plan to curb road accidents and ensuring safety of people, via a slew of amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act. These were presented before the Lok Sabha on Tuesday by Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
While Sikhs wearing turbans will be exempt from the helmet rule, the government is also looking to put a lid on cases of car accidents. It has proposed that it should be mandatory for car passengers aged below 14 years to wear a safety belt or restraint system. If this is not done then as per the new rules the violator will be asked to cough up a fine of Rs 1,000.
Most of the amendments to the Act aim at improving road safety by imposing severe penalties on traffic rule violators. It also aims to curb the number of repeat offenders with higher penalties and longer jail terms. However, the amendments also propose to remove the clause for a minimum educational qualification for commercial drivers. The new bill says that applicants holding a certificate from a driver training school need not meet a minimum educational qualification.
According to the Union Road Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, 400 lives are lost every day in road accidents. In spite of arguments that the bill was very voluminous, by evening the bill was referred to the standing committee.
The proposed amendments seek to empower traffic police to confiscate driving licenses if someone is caught jumping traffic lights, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, talking on a mobile phone while driving, or driving in the wrong lane. Besides a fine, the offences would lead to the suspension of licenses for a period three months. Police may also permanently revoke the license of repeat offenders. A repeat drunk driving offender would be fined Rs 15,000, and a serial 'dangerous driver' Rs 10,000 or one year in jail or both.