From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : MV Act and road safety
The new Motor Vehicles Act has provoked controversy.
- The overarching aim of the new law is to bring down the number of road accidents in the country.
- The Motor Vehicles Act stipulates the Central Government to make rules for the electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety including speed cameras, closed-circuit television cameras, speed guns, body wearable cameras, and such other technology.
- It also asks state governments to ensure electronic monitoring on national and state highways.
- The penalties stipulated under the Act have attracted criticism.
- The Motor Vehicles Act stipulates a 10-fold increase in fines for road safety traffic violations, driving under the influence of alcohol, not using seat belts and driving without seat belts.
- Gujarat has slashed the fines for 15 violations under the Act, reducing the quantum of penalties by 50 to 70%. Two other state governments in Uttarakhand and Karnataka have also expressed reservations about the new law.
Fines are okay
- States have the rights to bring down fines.
- Stringent penalties are necessary because people’s lives must be saved.
1,50,000 people die in road accidents in the country — 10% of all such fatalities worldwide.
- Its litmus test will lie in effective implementation by enforcement agencies.
- Punitive measures will not achieve much without an adequate number of traffic police personnel and road-safety devices like traffic lights.
- Unless law enforcement officials give up old habits like bribery, the purpose of the new law will be defeated.
- The Odisha government, which has relaxed the implementation of the law for three months, has asked traffic regulators “to counsel and handhold the public”.
- Rajasthan has partially implemented the Act and has decided to take steps to “self-motivate people”.
The self-motivation versus deterrence debate is not new. It’s heartening that the new Motor Vehicles Act has rekindled this discussion.