The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, recently released its Annual Report for 2022-2023. The comprehensive report begins by providing an overview of the Ministry, its history, and key responsibilities. It also covers a wide range of topics to effectively present the current state of the road transport and highways industry and the multiple initiatives undertaken to advance it.
General Overview of the Report
The report highlights the development that has taken place in terms of road/highways infrastructure and road safety in the past year (2022-23). A chapter is dedicated to shedding light on the development of highways in the Northeastern Region of the country. This publication also extends its purview to include details on the research and development carried out in this sector as well as the implementation of different legislations ( Official Language Policy and Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995). The plethora of relevant campaigns and initiatives (expos, competitions, etc.) introduced during the year to raise awareness about road safety and promote technological advancements in the same was also briefly discussed. Some of the notable campaigns include the Amrit Sarovar, Manthan, and Cleanliness Campaign, among others. An appendix at the end is a storehouse of important data such as State/Ut-Wise Details Of NHs, Total Number Of Registered Motor Vehicles In India: 2003-2020, Number Of Road Accidents And Persons Involved: 2005 To 2021, etc.
Discussions on Road Safety
A section titled ‘Road Safety’ has also been included in the same. This section is dedicated to India’s commitment to reducing road accident fatalities. All the concerted efforts of the Ministry to address the issue of road safety have been included in this sub-chapter. It reveals the horrifying number of road accidents and road accident fatalities to emphasize the pertinence of the issue. It lists the various measures taken by the Ministry to mitigate the number of road accidents.
Measures Undertaken for Road Safety
The report starts off with the Educational Measures (publicity and awareness campaigns). By utilizing social media, electronic media, and print media, the Ministry creates effective public awareness about road safety. The next aspect covered is Engineering (of both roads and vehicles). In terms of Road Engineering, the identification and rectification of blackspots (accident-prone spots) on National Highways have assumed high importance. A total of 5352 blackspots have been identified by the Ministry and multiple steps have been taken to rectify the situation. Road Safety audits have also been carried out at all stages of the highway projects (design, construction, and operation & maintenance).
As for Vehicle Engineering, crash safety norms have been notified to ensure the safety of the occupants in the event of an accident (like the AIS 098 that outlines the requirements for the protection of the occupants in the event of an offset frontal collision). In order to enhance vehicle safety, MoRTH has mandated a few safety technologies such as Airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Combined Braking System (CBS), seat belt reminders for drivers and co-driver, over speed warning systems, etc. Under Enforcement Measure, the report points out the many amendments that have been introduced in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1998. The Act will result in improvements in Road Safety, as well as increased convenience for citizens, greater transparency, and a reduction in corruption, all made possible through the use of information technology and the elimination of intermediaries. In addition, the Act will bolster public transportation, provide protection for Good Samaritans, and modernize the insurance and compensation system. It will also create opportunities for testing innovative technologies, such as driverless vehicles, in real-world settings, thereby enhancing research efficiency. Some important road safety measures and penalties included are -
- For Strengthening Enforcement and Road Safety
(Stricter penalties to improve deterrence effect, Minimum Penalty of Rs 500 as against the present amount of Rs 100 for minor offenses, Stricter penalties for Juvenile offenses, Drunken driving - Penalty increased to Rs 10,000 from the present level of Rs 2,000 and suspension of license, Recognizing the use of ITenabled enforcement equipment, etc.)
- For Speedy Assistance to Accident Victims
(Protection of Good Samaritans who help accident victims, Heavy Penalties on those not giving way to Ambulances, Cashless treatment during golden hour, Faster and hassle-free provisions for compensation of Rs 2.5 Lakh for grievous hurt and Rs 5 Lakh for death, etc.)
- For Simplification and Citizen Facilitation
(Permitting issue of driving license anywhere in the State, Facilitating grant of online learning license, Registration of new vehicles at the dealer's end including grant of registration number before the delivery of the vehicle is given, Provision for recycling of vehicles, Adapted vehicles for Divyang, etc.)
- For Strengthening Public Transport
(Aggregators recognized as a legal entity, Promote Rural Transport, Promote Public Transport, Promote last mile connectivity, etc.)
- For Automation and Computerization
(Promoting use of electronic forms and documents and Migration from State registers of driving license and vehicle registration to National level database)
- For Empowerment of States
(Compound offenses at amounts equal to the penalty or higher amounts, Impose a multiplier up to 10 to any penalty, Exempt the requirement of Stage Carriage in interest of rural transport, etc.)
Other Initiatives in the Field of Road Safety
This chapter ended with a summary of other initiatives taken for the same cause such as - Electronic Monitoring and Enforcement through speed cameras, CCTVs, speed guns, dash cams, body wearable cameras, etc., Incident Management System & Incident Management Services like the deployment of ambulances, patrol vehicles, cranes at every toll plaza, the creation of the National Road Safety Board (NRSB), regular review meetings by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety and the integration of Electronic Detailed Accident Report (e-DAR)/Integrated Road Accident Database (iRAD) for live data entry of road accidents.
This report is a must-read for anyone who wants to be updated on the current affairs of the country in terms of road safety. The publication can be downloaded and read here.