Elaborate directions issued to curb road accidents
Supreme Court: In the PIL filed by the Chairman and Head of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore, seeking enforcement of road safety norms and appropriate treatment of accident victims, after witnessing the acute loss of life and limbs caused by road accidents daily, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ enumerated a number of directions to ensure road safety. Some of the most important directions include:
- Framing of Road Safety Policyby State Governments and constitution of State Road Safety Council.
- Establishment of Lead Agencyacting as act as the Secretariat of the State Road Safety Council and coordinate all activities such as licensing issues including issues of driving licences, registration of vehicles, road safety and features of vehicles, along with other allied matters including emission norms and other activities.
- Establishment of Road Safety Fundfrom the fines collected for traffic violations and the Fund will be utilized for meeting expenses relating to road safety.
- State Governments and Union Territories should urgently prepare a Road Safety Action Planby 31st March, 2018 and put it into action after giving it due publicity.
- District Road Safety Committeeheaded by the Collector of the District should be constituted and should include amongst others the Superintendent of Police, Health Officers, Engineers of the Public Works Department, representatives of the National Highways Authority of India, the Road Transport Officer of the District and members of civil society from the District.
- State Governments and Union Territories should establish Permanent Road Safety Cellsby 31st January, 2018.
- Improvement in the designof roads to make them safe.
- GPS or location tracking devices must be fitted in all public service vehicles.
- Road Safety Audits as an audit of road safety is essential to reduce the possibility of road accidents through corrective measures.
- Road Safety Equipments including acquisition of cameras and surveillance equipments in detecting traffic and identifying violators, setting up of special patrol forces along the National Highways and State Highways.
- Road Safety Education and Counseling should be made a part of the school curriculum.
- Emergency Medical Careshould be established and at least one Trauma Care Centre should be set up in every district with necessary facilities and an ambulance.
- Due publicity must be given to the Universal Accident Helpline Number‘108’ so that an ambulance can be activated at the earliest whenever necessary.
- Directions relating to Drivers’ training, lane driving, ABS, Air Bags and Headlights, Speed Governors, Crash Test, etc. were also issued.
The petitioner had suggested that practical measures need to be taken in a time-bound and expeditious manner to give effect to legislations, reports and recommendations for ensuring that the loss of lives due to road accidents is minimized. He had brought to the Court’s notice that 90% of the problem of deaths due to road accidents is the result of a lack of strict enforcement of safety rules on roads and strict punishment for those who do not obey rules. He had relied upon data published in December 2011 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in its publication captioned “Road Accidents in India 2010” to indicate that the number of road accidents is increasing every year and that unfortunately more than half the victims are in the economically active age group of 25-65 years. [S. Rajaseekaran v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 295 OF 2012, decided on 30.11.2017]