Report No. 234
6.3 While the Union Government is still examining the Report of the Sundar Committee, the State of Kerala has taken the lead and brought on its statute Book the Kerala Road Safety Authority Act, 2007 (Kerala Act).
The Kerala Act provides for the constitution of a Road Safety Authority for implementation of road safety programmes in the State, for the establishment of a Road safety Fund and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. The Transport Commissioner is ex officio the Road Safety Commissioner, who is a member and the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority. The following sections of the Kerala Act need to be perused:
Section 4. Functions of the Authority. "The Authority shall have the following functions, namely:-
(a) advising the Government on road safety policies;
(b) prescribing and enforcing road safety standards and procedures;
(c) formulate and implement schemes, projects and programmes, relating to road safety;
(d) co-ordinating the functions of all the agencies and Government departments discharging the duties related to road safety;
(e) implementing road safety awareness programmes;
(f) administration of the Fund;
(g) sanctioning expenditure for the implementation of road safety schemes and programmes;
(h) sanctioning expenditure for road safety projects and for purchase and installation of equipments and devices connected with road safety;
(i) sanctioning expenditure for the conduct of studies, projects and research on matters relating to road safety;
(j) sanctioning expenditure for trauma-care programmes or activities;
(k) sanctioning administrative expenditure of the Authority;
(l) sanctioning expenditure on matters connected with road safety measures;
(m) formation of self help groups, under the leadership of the Authority for the rescue operation in the place of accident;
(n) discharging such other functions, as may be prescribed, having regard to the objects of this Act."
Section 14. Power to order removal of causes of accidents. "(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, where the Authority is satisfied on complaint, report by any person or otherwise tha.-
(i) the act of any person or persons on a public road; or
(ii) the placement or positioning of any vehicle, animal, object built without the approval of any recognized administrative authority, structure or materials including arches, banners, display boards, hoardings, awnings, tents, pandals, poles, platforms, rostrums, statues, monuments and other similar structures, on a public road; or
(iii) the movement of animals or vehicles on a public road; or
(iv) the condition of any tree, structure or building situated in the vicinity of a public road; or
(v) the entry or exit of any building or premise in the vicinity of a public road, is likely to cause accidents or causes obstruction to the free flow of traffic or distract the attention or obstruct the vision of the driver of any vehicle, the Road Safety Commissioner may, after recording reasons thereof, direct the person concerned, either by a general or special order, to take such measures within two months as it considers necessary and such person shall be bound to comply with the direction within such time, as may be specified by the Authority.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), in case of urgency, the Road Safety Commissioner may take such action as may be necessary to prevent accident or obstruction, as the case may be, and recover the cost thereof from the person responsible, in such manner as may be prescribed."
Section 15. Power to order works. "(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, it shall be lawful for the Authority to order any work or improvement on a public road, as it considers necessary, to secure safety on such roads and each concerned Government department or the local authority or any other authority shall be bound to carry out such works or improvement within such time, as may be specified by the Authority:
Provided that no order under this sub-section shall be issued in respect of any highway declared as such under the Kerala Highway Protection Act, 1999 (6 of 2000) except with the prior consultation of the highway authority of the respective area appointed under the said Act:
Provided further that it shall not be issued in respect of the roads under the control of the Local Self Government Institutions without prior consultation with the respective Local Self Government.
(2) It shall be the duty of every officer of the Government, local authority or any other authority to act in aid of the Authority in enforcing the orders under sub-section (1)."
Section 16. Power to recover cost. "If any person on whom a written order is served under section 14 refuses or fails to comply with the order, the Authority may take such action as to prevent danger and ensure safety to the public and may recover the cost with legitimate interest thereof from such person."
Section 19. District Road Safety Council. "(1) The Government may, by notification in the Gazette, constitute a Council to be called "the District Road Safety Council" in every district in the State.
(2) ... .
(3) The District Road Safety Council shall exercise such powers and perform such functions, as the Authority may, from time to time, delegate."
Section 26. Punishment for failure to comply with the Authority's order. "(1) Whoever refuses or fails to comply with any order of the Authority or the Road Safety Commissioner or any District Road Safety Council under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of six months or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both.
(2) In the case of continuing offence a fine of one thousand rupees shall be imposed for each day for which the offence continues."
Section 27. Punishment for obstructing the Authority. "Whoever obstructs the Authority, the Road Safety Commissioner, District Road Safety Council or any officer of the Authority or of the District Road Safety Council or any person employed or engaged by them in the discharge of the functions under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of maximum three years or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both."
Section 28. Compounding of offences. "Any offence punishable under section 26 may either before or after the institution of prosecution, be compounded by such officers or authorities and for such amount as the Government may, by notification in the Gazette, specify in this behalf."
Section 37. Power to give directions. "The Government may give directions to the Authority in matters of policy of the Authority and the Authority shall be bound to give effect to such directions."
6.4 Significantly, section 215 of the MV Act mandates the constitution of Road Safety Councils at the national and State levels and of District Road Safety Committee for each district and there are in place the National Road Safety Council and State Road Safety Councils in some States. This provision reads as under:
Road Safety Councils and Committees. "(1) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for the country a National Road Safety Council consisting of a Chairman and such other members as that Government considers necessary and on such terms and conditions as that Government may determine.
(2) A State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for the State a State Road Safety Council consisting of a Chairman and such other members as that Government considers necessary and on such terms and conditions as that Government may determine.
(3) A State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute District Road Safety Committee for each district in the State consisting of a Chairman and such other members as that Government considers necessary and on such terms and conditions as that Government may determine.
(4) The Councils and Committees referred to in this section shall discharge such functions relating to the road safety programmes as the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, may, having regard to the objects of the Act, specify."
6.5 The Union Department of Road Transport and Highways has formulated a draft National Road Safety Policy (Policy) in consultation with road safety experts and other departments. The same was placed before the National Road Safety Council and has also been placed on the said Department's website1. The comments/suggestions received thereon are under examination.1
1. http://morth.nic.in, visited 17.06.2008.
6.6 The Policy notes that the number of road accidents and fatalities have been growing in recent years, which call for concerted and multidisciplinary preventive and remedial efforts. As road accidents involve roads, motor vehicles as also the human beings, the Policy needs to address on a holistic basis, issues covering road engineering, signage, vehicle design, education of road users and enforcement of traffic safety measures. Safer road infrastructure, safer vehicles, safer drivers, safety for vulnerable road users, road traffic safety education and training, and traffic enforcement are, accordingly, included in the goals.
6.7 The Policy states that safety conscious planning and design of roads and road networks will be encouraged whilst undertaking new as well as up-gradation and rehabilitation road schemes through application of road safety audits.
6.8 The Policy notes that without vehicle construction regulations governing safety standards for systems such as braking, lightening, signaling there can be little control over the general safety of country's vehicle fleet. Steps will be taken to strengthen the system to ensure that safety aspects are built in at the stage of design, manufacture, usage, operation and maintenance of vehicles in line with prevailing international standards in order to minimize adverse safety and environmental effects of vehicle operation on road users and infrastructure.
6.9 The Policy states that the government will strengthen the system of driver licensing and training to improve the competence and capability of drivers. The manpower, both quantitatively and qualitatively, will be improved to test and evaluate the driving ability of all licence applicants. Setting up of modern driving schools with adequate infrastructure and tools in partnership with automobile manufacturers, other private sector participants and NGOs will be encouraged.
6.10 The Policy notes that the road users found most vulnerable on Indian roads from a road safety point of view are pedestrians, bicyclists and motorized two-wheelers. Special provisions for people on foot include regulations for pedestrian crossings, which give legal precedence to pedestrians. However, it is the pedestrians seeking to protect their lives, who almost invariably give way to motor vehicles.
Another set of vulnerable road users are the non-motorized handcarts, cycle rickshaws, animal-drawn carts, etc. In India, there is high degree of heterogeneity and no segregation of motorized and non-motorized traffic on roads. This often leads to increased conflicts and thus reduced safety. There is no appropriate legislation to govern the behaviour of pedestrians and non-motorized traffic on the roads.
6.11 The Policy states that the government will encourage all professionals undertaking road design, road construction, road network management, traffic management and law enforcement to attain adequate knowledge of road safety issues. Inclusion of road safety awareness as part of educational curricula for students of various age groups will be encouraged. Also, training programmes for various specific groups involved in road safety management tasks, e.g., traffic personnel, highway engineers, school teachers, town planners, NGOs, etc. will be planned, designed and implemented.
6.12 The Policy notes that enforcement of traffic legislation is aimed at controlling road user behaviour by preventive, persuasive and punitive methods in order to effect the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. The primary objective of traffic law enforcement is the creation of a deterrent to violators and potential violators of traffic laws and to raise the level of compliance among all drivers and road users. Appropriate steps to ensure that the enforcement authorities are adequately manned, trained, equipped and empowered to carry out their function ensuring safe road use and orderly traffic flow, will be taken.