Cameras on NHs to catch speeding drivers: Nitin Gadkari

With overspeeding accounting for over 62% road accident deaths, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said cameras will be installed on National Highways to check errant drivers who would face stricter penalties.

"We are hopeful that the new Motor Vehicle Act is passed in the upcoming session of Parliament as a Group of Ministers, headed by Transport Minister of Rajasthan is likely to submit its report on stricter penalties and after the Cabinet nod the same would be introduced in Parliament," Gadkari said addressing the media.

The Road Transport and Highways Minister, who has been vocal that 30% of licences in India were "bogus", said a study of 2015 accidents showed that "owners of regular licences were involved in 79% of about 5 lakh road accidents in which 1.46 lakh people died."

Drivers' fault accounted for 77% of total road accidents, Gadkari said and stressed that India is the only country where driving licences are being issued liberally but the "government cannot allow it anymore".

"Under the proposed new Motor bill, driving licences could be obtained only after a driver passes the test at the computerised centres and results will automatically be transmitted to concerned RTO through satellite and it would be mandatory for the RTO to issue license within 3 days else the officials would face penalty," he said.

Around 20 computerised driving centres have been already set up in the country.

Likewise, to check errant drivers, cameras would be installed on highways to monitor the speed of the vehicles and strict penalties would be imposed on violators, he said.

Cities like Delhi already have them in place.

The minister said the report has found out that "drivers exceeding lawful speed or overspeeding accounted for a share of 62.2% and 61% of accidents caused or people killed due to drivers fault.

He said a National Road Safety Board was on the anvil and the Cabinet nod will be taken on it soon.

Stressing that the government is committed to ensuring safer travel, he said several important decisions were being taken to correct automobile designs and it has been mandatory to ensure airbags in vehicles besides provision of airconditioning in truck cabins.

A committee is looking into design of helmets to make them light and within three months the design would be finalised, he said.

Besides people violating vehicle norms will face stricter penalties, the minister said.

The GoM to frame stricter penalties for Road Safety Bill is scheduled to meet in Dharmshala, Himachal Pradesh, on June 12 and would come up with its final recommendations soon, he said.

The interim recommendations on Road Safety Bill by GoM provides for a stringent penalty of Rs 100 crore and compulsorily recall for faulty designs and absence of necessary safety features in their vehicles.

The new Road Safety Bill may also provide for a penalty of up to Rs 5,000 on individuals for use of unauthorised components and other manufacturing or maintenance-related violations, such as in fog lights, pressure horns, extra lights, roof-top carriers and metallic protectors.

The dealers and vehicle body builders would face a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh per vehicle for such offences. Besides, the component dealers would be fined up to Rs 1 lakh for "selling non-approved critical safety components for vehicles".

These proposed penal provisions form part of recommendations made by GoM.

The panel, headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunoos Khan, in its preliminary recommendations has proposed these penalties for contravening the provisions relating to construction and maintenance of vehicles, for which the current rules provide for a fine of Rs 1,000 for first offence and Rs 5,000 for subsequent offences.

The final recommendations are expected to be in place this month.

The panel has unanimously agreed to framing strict and steeper penalties that include imprisonment for offences like driving by minors, crossing speed limits, drunk driving, talking over phone while driving and jumping traffic lights.

It also recommends jail of up to a year in addition to a penalty of Rs 10,000 for those driving with fake licences  up from the current penalty provision of Rs 500 and a maximum jail term of three months.

In case of juvenile drivers, the owner of the vehicle or the driver's guardian will face stricter penalties of up to three years in jail and fine of up to Rs 20,000, while their vehicle registration certificate may also be cancelled.

After failing to push new Road Safety Bill in Parliament, the Centre had constituted the group of ministers (GoM) for further consultation and reaching a consensus on stricter traffic rules.

Road safety has been a matter of great concern in India with an average of 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in accidents across the country.

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