Various citizens and road crash victims sent an open letter to the prime minister appealing him to make road safety a national priority. The letter also appealed the prime minister to ensure the passage of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2017 during the upcoming session, which seeks to strengthen the laws regarding road safety. The bill has been languishing in the parliament for almost two years.
The letter reminds the prime minister that over 1.5 lakh road traffic fatalities occur year after year, with more than 5 lakh injuries, many of them disabled for life. Road safety shows no sign of improvement despite the matter being closely monitored by the Supreme Court. “While the road transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari has made a personal commitment to the issue of road safety, the ministry has failed to push the bill through the parliament where it first faced roadblocks from the Lok Sabha and then now in the Rajya Sabha. The country will also miss the goal of reducing road traffic injury and death by 50% by 2020 set in the Brasilia Declaration, to which India is a signatory,” a statement released by Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum in Guwahati said.
The road safety community has consistently stressed that road safety is not about blaming the drivers, but about creating a safer road system, which includes safer roads, safer vehicles, safer users and speed control besides stricter monitoring and stiffer penalties. “The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill addresses many of these issues, which coupled with robust enforcement, can significantly reduce the burden of road traffic trauma, thus avoiding needless loss of human life, suffering and economic loss to the country,” said the Road Safety Network, a coalition of road safety organizations, which led the effort to get eminent citizens from across the nation to endorse the grim issue to the prime minister.
“The Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2017 which is pending in the parliament since long is costing more than 400 lives in avoidable road crashes every day. It is time for the government to make road safety a national priority,” says Ashim Sanyal, COO at Consumer Voice.
The letter has been endorsed by many ex-bureaucrats, judges, scientists, artists, authors, and industrialists of high stature, many national award winners, as well as road crash survivors and next of kin of victims.
Ajoy Hazaika, secretary, Consumer Legal Protection Forum, Assam said that, “Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2017 is very crucial from the point of road safety. So, we strongly urge our parliamentarians to pass this bill in the current monsoon session to save precious lives being lost due to accidents on Indian roads.”