Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

[op-ed snap] Let’s talk safety


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.

Controversial provisions

  • 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.

Way ahead

  • 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.

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