How often are we wowed by the uncluttered systems in western countries. One such system is road and traffic discipline. This discipline is buttressed by the stringent rules and impartial implementation. But when the same stringency is brought in to our system, that too after decades of having an apparatus that produced modest results, it is met with resistance and exhortations for a rollback.
As regards implementation, challenges will arise with any law, more so with a new law. But the good news is that with increasing digitisation and technology, implementation is likely to be more robust and effective.The new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 symbolises the burgeoning presence of India in the global economy. An economy with a rising geopolitical role cannot afford to have lax laws. Growing law compliance in a society is both an indicator and a concomitant of rising development indices.
National Crime Records Bureau data reveals that 90% of road deaths annually are due to delinquent driving. Traffic accidents continue to contribute about 40% of the total unnatural deaths reported. No nation can afford to lose its precious human resources to such hapless events.
A research by Down to Earth found accident victims are usually from the weaker sections of the society, thus defeating our Constitution as it is tantamount to denial of equal opportunity to life. Some have suggested that laws be made more community friendly. Rather than a stringent law, awareness creation, sensitisation, etc., are suggested for improving compliance.
These are welcome steps. But the outcome of this approach has not been heartwarming. Despite the authorities, especially police, creating awareness through mass media and community programs, the response has been lukewarm.
Suffice to say, this approach alone will not secure compliance. Evidently, deterrent coupled with community oriented strategies appear to be the way forward. Anecdotal accounts post-amendment show that the drivers do not cross the line and exercise caution to stop before the line, resisting the temptation to jump signals. Although it is too early to get a statistical account, a deterrent effect in road safety rules was long needed. It’s time for the civil society and the authorities to join hands in this endeavour. (Views are personal)