‘Janakrosh’ an NGO from Nagpur that has been consistently working on road safety education at all levels supports the new amendments to The Motor Vehicles Act, 2019 which came into force from September 1, 2019. The new law imposes heavy penalties for traffic violations across India.
Janakrosh urges people to obey the traffic rules to reduce accidents & consequent deaths on roads. The need for bringing the amendments in the M.V. Act has been felt in order to instill some fear in the vehicle drivers who have scant regard for the law, brazenly break traffic rules and display their arrogance on roads. It is usual to see some bikers jumping the red lights, dangerous, careless driving, not wearing helmets or seat belts, continued drunken driving, talking or texting on a mobile phone while driving & violating other traffic rules. One of the main causes for violations has been the paltry sum of fine prescribed in the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 which was insufficient to deter the violators.
The stricter penalties have brought forth a range of reactions and jokes on social media. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Whatsapp are flooded with hilarious memes, jokes, and cartoons on the new traffic rules. They are making a mockery of new rules, ridiculing them and spreading a misinformation campaign.
But in all this exchange of unwarranted social media messages, we are oblivious of a stark reality that India has the distinction of being the world leader in road fatalities. Instead of mocking the new rules, we must realize that about 1.50 lakh people die in road accidents every year which means daily about 400 people who go out of home for their works never return alive.
It’s a staggering, frightening and saddening figure for a country where ‘Right to Life’ and Personal Liberty is a fundamental right under Article 21 enshrined in the country’s Constitution, which says “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” We must, therefore, ponder- when everyone has a constitutional ‘right to life’, why 400 lives are lost daily on roads mainly due to driver behavior?
We must remember that the death of 1.50 lakh people on road every year is not only a loss to the family & society but to the entire nation as well, as Indian economy loses 3 percent GDP annually due to road traffic accidents, which is over $58,000 million in terms of value, says a study conducted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Some messages on social media also mockingly apprehend that higher penalties will yield higher income to traffic police but the fact is that if we obey traffic rules, where is the question of paying penalties or paying bribes? People think that they will flout traffic rules and yet the police should let them go scot-free. It’s the violators who offer the opportunity to police. Rather they should accept the official fine and deter alleged corruption by traffic police.
Some even erroneously assume that the steep fines have been imposed for filling the Government coffers, but that is untrue. By making such bald allegations, we ignore that traffic rules are for safety of citizens and if we do not obey these, accidents, injuries and deaths are bound to continue unabated.
Instead of making fun of the new traffic rules, we must pledge to follow traffic rules and be disciplined. We have to change our road behavior. Even if the roads are full of potholes and has other deficiencies, does it give us a ‘carte blanche’ to disobey Traffic rules and maim or kill others?
Janakrosh, therefore, feels that in addition to strict enforcement of new provisions of the amended law, the Government should also optimize use of ‘Machines’ i.e. new technology and reduce dependence on ‘Men’, as is done in some countries, where no policemen are seen at intersections, but still people follow traffic rules and signals, since fine for traffic violation is directly debited to the violator’s bank account.
Ultimately, we must realize that – We have only one life…Let’s live it.
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