Highway Safety in India

Road and transportation have become an essential component of every human being’s life in today’s globe. Every human being, in some form or another, is a road user. The current transportation system has reduced distances while increasing the chance of death. Every year, traffic accidents claim the lives of thousands of people and injure millions more. Every year, over eighty thousand people are killed in road accidents in India, accounting for thirteen percent of all fatalities worldwide. The driver is a major factor in the majority of accidents. Most crashes occur as a result of carelessness or a lack of road safety knowledge on the part of the road user. Road traffic deaths have reached worrisome proportions around the world, with 1.35 million people killed in traffic accidents each year, but India has the poorest road safety record. In 2018, over 149,000 persons were killed on Indian roadways. Despite having only around 2% of the world’s motor vehicles, India is responsible for more than 11% of road traffic deaths. 

When India’s motorization was in its early stages, the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 was drafted. Policymakers sought to increase motor vehicle ownership by prioritizing the mobility of commodities and passengers. However, the legislation lacked one critical component: safety. While India has been debating revising its Motor Vehicles Act for more than two decades, the catalyst for action came in June 2014, when then-Central Minister Gopinath Munde was killed in a road accident. The signing of the Brasilia Declaration by India to decrease road traffic deaths by half by 2020 provided more impetus. The bill proposes establishing a board with state government representation to assist the federal and state governments on road safety and traffic management. The measure gives the central government the authority to define national transportation policy, which will aid in the development of a framework for planning, awarding permits, and determining priorities for the road transportation sector.

“Highway Safety Corridor Sign I-495, November 2014” by MassDOT is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Increased fines are one of the bill’s most contentious features. In India, several traffic violations, such as drunk driving and speeding, currently receive light penalties. Increased sanctions will hopefully serve as a deterrent and promote safety. The bill would also establish a Motor Vehicles Accident Fund, which would provide mandatory insurance to all road users in India, including drivers, bikers, and pedestrians. The fund would pay for victims’ therapy, as well as compensation for victims’ relatives, among other things. The bill also shields “Good Samaritans,” or anyone who helps a crash victim by offering emergency medical or non-medical assistance, from civil or criminal liability. The law proposes that the guardian or owner of the vehicle be held liable for infractions committed by juvenile drivers.