Experts on September 24 came forward in support of the new Motor Vehicle Act 2019, which is attracting criticism for heavy penalties, saying its implementation will bring down the number of road fatalities in the country. About 7,33,000 people died in the past 5 years in India due to road accidents, according to road safety experts and civil society organisations at a conference here citing World Health Organization data. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, which provides for heavy penalties for traffic rule violations, came into force from September 1. However, some states reduced the penalties after reports of hefty fines imposed by police for rules violations hit the headlines.
Last week, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said about 5 lakh deaths occur in India per year due to traffic laws' violation. He also said that barring one or two states, all were on board on the new law. The implementation of the MVA 2019 will bring down the number of road fatalities in the country, the participants said. Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, Rajya Sabha MP and chairman of the Rajya Sabha's Select Committee on MVA Bill, 2017, requested state governments to implement the law in their respective state as effectively as possible. Rajesh Yadav, transport commissioner, Government of Rajasthan, said: "Instead of promoting good provisions of MVA, people are joking and creating cartoons on MVA." Road safety is a comprehensive issue. Maximum deaths are of earning members of family, 60-70 per cent are of two-wheelers and mostly of poor people, he said and added that awareness is required at a large level by central and states governments who should promote the MVA Act and its provisions.
George Cheriyan, director of CUTS (Consumer Unity and Trust Society), said, "There are some good provisions in the new MVA like licensing reform, legalising good Samaritan and several others which are not being highlighted. We need to change the impression of a high penalty." Pradeep S Mehta, secretary-general of CUTS, said issues related to road safety must be looked at. The level of patience and indiscipline among road users is decreasing and this is the root cause of road accidents. "RWAs (residence welfare associations) need to be creating awareness. This can be a way of incentivising. Filmmakers and actors can also promote usage of helmets and seat belts, etc, for greater awareness," he added.