Beware ! If you jump the traffic lights, drive on the wrong side, have no seat belt or obstruct emergency vehicles, you may have to shell out a fine of Rs 5,000. And in case you repeat the offences, the fine could touch Rs 10,000 and even Rs 15,000. Even your licence could be suspended and you may be sent for a refresher driving course.
The Road Transport and Safety Bill, which seeks to tame traffic offenders, has proposed manifold jump in fines and jail terms. A driver causing a child’s death will face a Rs. 3 lakh fine apart from a 7-year jail. Those caught driving "dangerously" with children on board would lose their licence and fined Rs 15,000 and could even be jailed. Driving a 2-wheeler without a helmet may cost you Rs 2,500 and using a mobile phone during driving, a fine of Rs 4,000- Rs 10,000.
The Bill proposes a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on auto companies which release faulty vehicles in the market. For drunken driving, the Bill proposes fines between Rs 15,000 - Rs 50,000 depending on the percentage of alcohol in the blood. These offences would also invite jail for 6-24 months. For school bus drivers, the fine could go up to Rs 50,000 with a 3- year jail term.
These changes have been made considering the three main reasons behind road crashes and fatalities – over-speeding, drunken driving and not wearing seat belts and helmets. The road transport ministry has also proposed a central agency similar to the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA) of the US. It will be responsible for setting norms for the issue of driving licences and vehicle registration, vehicle safety, data collection and multi-disciplinary crash investigation.
The countries that have brought down road deaths significantly have a nodal agency for coordinated effort. The Bill proposes a Highway Traffic Regulation and Protection Force maintained by state governments for traffic regulation and smooth traffic flow. The force will be empowered to impound violating vehicles and arrest the drivers. This is important as 63% of the 1.38 lakh deaths every year on Indian roads happen on national and state highways. The Bill also has a detailed pro forma to record details at accident crash sites for a thorough probe.