July 23, 2019
Pratima Mondal speaks on The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Thank you, Madam, for giving me the opportunity to speak on The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which holds immense importance.
I stand to oppose the Bill, on matters several of which have already been pointed out by Prof Saugata Roy. Since the Government has got the numbers and will get the Bill passed, it is my duty to put forward certain suggestions that could be included in the Bill.
In the past decade, over a million people have been killed in India. Four hundred-plus deaths occur every single day, which is equivalent to a fully loaded 747 jumbo jet crashing in India every day. Addressing the gaps of the existing Act is the need of the hour. I will not take much time and will quickly go through the points which need to be enacted.
Firstly and most importantly, India needs a nationwide access number that will provide immediate assistance in case of any mishap. Different States have different numbers, some have a tentative mobile number to reach out for help. This causes a delay in providing trauma care and increases the death toll. I sincerely request the Government to provide a pan-India medical emergency assistance access number.
Secondly, we have provisions for seat belt just for the front row seats of a car. But rear seat passengers are equally vulnerable in case of accidents. Every developed country in the world has compulsory provisions for seat belts on the back seat. India too should work on the path towards making this possible.
Thirdly, it should be made binding on two-wheeler riders to have a child-restraint system. Two-wheelers are a dangerous form of transport as far as a child is concerned. A sudden break or push can cause unimaginable consequences. It is necessary to have a precaution system to secure the safety of children because careless driving, overtaking, etc. even with a child, is not an uncommon scenario.
Fourthly, on page 11 of the Bill, the Government is talking about ensuring mitigation and prevention of accidents by enhancing road engineering, by inserting Section 66(A) and (B). I would request the Minister to elaborate on this point. It is indeed important to make more roads and better roads, but that will also lead to more vehicles on them, and this will cause an increase in the number of accidents. How will the Government address this situation?
Fifthly, the aim of the WHO’s Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 is to stabilise and reduce the level of road traffic deaths around the world. However we stand nowhere close in achieving the target, which is very important for formulating a strict action plan based on these pillars and spread awareness on the streets because implementation of laws are more important than forming them.
Sixthly, the Bill talks about compensation for the injured. Here it is necessary to look into the matter of rehabilitation of the injured person. A severely injured person might lose his ability to discharge his or her function to earn a livelihood.
Finally, I would like to draw the Government’s attention towards a very serious matter that goes unnoticed. Various platforms on social media contain numerous videos and pictures of stunts performed on bikes. They influence young minds and take away numerous lives when tried to be enacted. It is very difficult to control the content of social media but every form of show of stunt, if caught, should be heavily penalised through imprisonment along with cancelling of the license. Vehicles are a mode of transport for human lives, not toys to be played with.
Thank you, Sir, for giving me the opportunity to conclude my speech.