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Key features of the new Motor Vehicles Bill

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has put the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill up for consideration at the Lok Sabha. Primarily, the legislation comes with fresh amendments that can slap reckless drivers with a
hefty monetary cost plus suspension or impounding of licence. The Bill is being hailed as a landmark in establishing strict vigilance on unruly traffic in the country and streamlining transport.

Read on to know the main features for the Bill.

1. Checking reckless driving

The primary highlight of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill is to address the issue of reckless driving in the country. The legislature seeks to correct this by introducing stricter fines as a preventive measure against reckless driving, drunk driving, etc.

Fancy this: drinking and driving will attract a fine of Rs 10,000 for first offence and if you venture to commit it again within three years of first offence it will attract a penalty of Rs 50,000. You can be fined Rs 5,000 for racing on the road for first offence and Rs 10,000 for second. Parking on public road causing impediment to traffic can make you pay Rs 500 per hour plus removal charges. Using mobile phones while driving will attract fine of Rs 5,000.

2. Measures against cases of irresponsible driving by juveniles

Additionally, in cases of traffic violations by juveniles, the guardian/owner of the car will be held responsible, unless they can prove the offence was committed without their knowledge or they tried to prevent it. The juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act. The registration of the vehicle involved will stand cancelled. In case of surrender of licence because of any violation, the driver will not be authorised until he/she gets back the licence.

As a wider measure to check irresponsibility among citizens, and to instill humanitarian gestures, the Bill also penalises a vehicle for not giving way to emergency services like the ambulence. Most of the fines have been hiked almost ten times.

3. New rules in issuing Driving Licence

To keep the drivers under tight leash and not to escape the law, the bill proposes a National Register of Driving Licences under the central government. This national register will subsume all States Registers of Driving Licences and will see that no driving licence issued or renewed under the Act shall be valid unless it has been issued a unique driving licence number under the National Register of Driving Licences. The amendment makes the use of Aadhaar number mandatory for applying for driving licence and vehicle registrations.

It reduces the current validity of the driving licence from 20 years to 10 years and for people renewing their licences after the age of 55, the validity will be only five years. However, the time limit for renewal of driving licence will be increased from current one month to one year before and after the expiry date.

4. Insurance on third party risks compulsory

The Bill provides for compensation on the basis of no-fault liability, scheme for the treatment of accident victims during the golden hour and provides for increase in the compensation to accident victims to five lakh rupees in the case of death and two and a half lakh rupees in the case of grievous hurt. It, however, does not stop the victims to approach courts for higher compensation.

It also proposes to make life easier for the Good Samaritans who wish to help in case of an accident. They need not fear the law now as the bill protects them for rendering emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance, including transporting the victim to the hospital, in good faith, voluntarily and without expectation of any reward or compensation.

5. Validates app-based cab services

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill marks a milestone in the development of app-based transportation services in India, by validating digital cab services like Ola, Uber, and the rest. For the first time, these app-based cab service providers will be provided licences by the Government of India, and be allowed to operate under a specific administrational framework. This will streamline and legitimise services, increasing accountability, experts say. According to reports, these service providers will also be required to comply under the Information Technology Act, 2000, that deals with cybercrime and electronic commerce. The proper service guidelines for the app-based cab service providers are yet to be charted.

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