Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 have been approved by an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. Apart from 28 new ones, there will be amendments to 68 of the current Act's 223 sections.
Compensation for hit-and-run cases will has now gone up from ₹25,000 to ₹2 lakh and for fatal road accidents, has gone up to ₹10 lakh. The new Good Samaritan guidelines have also been incorporated in this Bill. Currently, over five lakh road accidents are reported in India each year, with over 1.5 lakh individuals having lost their lives. The government is committed to reducing accidents and fatalities by 50 percent in the next five years.
The amendments also proposes stiffer penalties for violations, hiked from two- to ten-fold for a varying range of offenses. For driving without a licence, the existing penalty of Rs 500 will increase to Rs 5,000, for drunken driving (which is a leading cause of accidents and fatalities) it will increase from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000, and for overspeeding, the fine of Rs 400 will now be Rs 1,000 for LMVs (light motor vehicles) and Rs 2,000 for passenger vehicles.
One of the clauses in the Bill, for instance, is that parents/guardian/vehicle owner will be held guilty if a minor is caught driving and is involved in an accident. The fine is set at ₹25,000 with three-year imprisonment and cancellation of Vehicle Registration. The fines will be revised by a fixed 10 percent on April 1 every year to adjust for inflation.
A new section has also been added for states to regulate the activities of pedestrians and non-motorised road users in a public place. States need to create special zones such as cycle tracks, footpaths and non-motorable tracks. Additionaly, issuing licences and modification of vehicles for differently abled persons have been made easier. It is now mandatory for children above four years to wear a helmet when being carried on a motorcycle, also, each child needs to wear a seatbelt or should be put in a child seat in a four-wheeler.
As a next step, the bill will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Once it is passed in the Rajya Sabha as well, it will be sent to the President for his assent.
The government will also focus on a system of licensing and certification of automobiles. The Bill proposes to link all applicants with their UID and create one national register for driving licences and another for vehicles registration.
The process of testing and certification of automobiles is proposed to be regulated more effectively. Testing agencies (like ARAI) which issue automobile approvals have been brought under the ambit of the Act. Manufacturers of faulty vehicles or those that do not meet required criteria can be penalised by up to ₹100 crore. Road contractors with faulty design and construction can face fines upto ₹1 lakh.