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Evolution of Motor Vehicle Policies in India

Many of our regular activities like shopping, watching movies, and or even working have become easier with a digital alternative. Yet, there still isn’t one to parallel the experience and joy of driving! Regardless of one’s financial background, most Indians have preferred and loved driving and traveling in their own vehicles. Taking a long drive has become one of our most favorite stress busters to make us feel free and liberated!

While most of us have mastered the art of steering through traffic and tricky roads, the number of accidents per year and the level of vulnerability to accidents have not reduced. This is mostly due to the disregard and negligence of traffic rules, even though accidents could leave the victim disabled and their family members in serious financial dire straits.

The Government of India has, from time to time enforced stricter rules for motorists. These rules are meant to make driving a safer experience for all and hence less stressful. They have also made Motor Insurance, a mandatory requirement for all vehicle owners to protect them from any mishaps under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and huge fines for reckless drivers under the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019.

Let us take a trip down memory lane and revisit the evolution of motor vehicle policies in India over the years.

History of Motor Vehicle Policies

With traveling in our vehicles being the most preferred mode of transport, it has left us more vulnerable to accidents. The urge to reach a destination on time, sometimes makes us forget or ignore certain traffic rules, which could also cause inconveniences or problems for other motorists and pedestrians. This situation cannot be improved simply with the Government enforcing additional restrictions to make it a safer experience for everyone. It is imperative that we adhere to them as responsible motorists.

There have been a number of legislations that have been passed over the years to ensure better road safety. Here is a look at some of them.

Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1914

The first act under the central legislation, the Indian Motor Vehicles Act of 1914 was passed under British India. With 18 sections in place, the Act enabled the local governments to regulate enforcements and to ensure the registration and licensing of vehicles and motorists to maintain road safety. The Act was later modified in some princely states in 1920 and 1924 and adhered to until the Motor Vehicles Act in 1988.

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 made licensing of the motorists and registration of the vehicles mandatory. The Act introduced Learner’s license for all the drivers willing to obtain a license and mandated the use of the “L” board and the company of an instructor when driving in a public place. The Act also laid down rules and regulations for permit control, traffic regulation, motor insurances, and penalties. The Act proposed that no person under the age of 20 is allowed to drive a vehicle in a public place and a learner’s license or driving license should only be issued if he or she meets the eligibility requirement. With the Act, the limitations on third-party motor insurance were lifted and a cap for third-party liabilities up to Rs. 10 lakh for death and Rs. 5 lakh for serious injuries was proposed.

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act of 2019

Implemented since September 1, 2019, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 was passed to ensure road safety with stricter rules. The major provisions under the Act include compensation up to two lakhs for road accident victims and huge fines for willful offenders. The bill also reinstated a recall of vehicles for all vehicles which may be an unreasonable safety risk to other motorists, the driver, and the environment. With the amendment of the bill, the Central government created the National Road Safety Board as an advisory board on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.

With stricter rules and regulations, the Government aims to control road accidents thereby maintaining safer roads for the public. It is our duty to do our part by following these guidelines in the true spirit.

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