The matter came to the head following series of accidents on highways and in cities claiming lives. It may be mentioned that in 2015, 1,46,000 deaths were recorded due to road accidents across the country.
Rash driving claiming lives have become quite rampant on highways in the state as well. Costly cars priced above Rs 80 lakh which were being driven by untrained youth are quite common. There is a need to go through special training to drive these 4 to 6 cylinder cars as these are high pick-up vehicles.
Wreckage of such damaged cars outside almost all police stations on highways shows the increase in the number of accidents on highways, said an officer of the state transport department.
He added that after riding at a high speed on highways, the “novice drivers” don’t even bother to bring down the speed of the car even after entering a congested urban area. This again leads to a major problem.
In a bid to bring down the number of accidents, the Centre had constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to suggest steps that need to be taken for a reform in transport sector and road safety. The GoM is comprised of the transport ministers of eight states – Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Maharastra, Mizoram and Odisha.
Subsequently, a Group of Officers (GoO) comprising transport secretaries of four states – West Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kerala - was also formed to assist the GoM in recommending necessary changes in the Motor Vehicle Act and improve the transport system.
The first meeting of the GoO held at Eco-Park in Kolkata on April 6 was attended by all its members. Senior police officers from both from the state police and the Kolkata Police had given presentation pointing out the key areas those lead to major traffic related problems and fatal accidents. Steps needed to check repeated accidents on highway that cause inconvenience to hundreds of common people, was also discussed in the meeting.
Besides officials of the transport department, members of organisations including Motor Vehicles and Dealers’ Associations have put forward how people face inconvenience for various reasons at motor vehicle offices.
The GoM later discussed the issues and the necessity of strict punishment for violating traffic norms, which lead to accidents, was discussed wildly.
It may be mentioned that the police from almost all states including West Bengal had approached their respective governments stating that the only way out to curb rising number of road accidents is to impose strict penalties against the offenders. It had prompted the Centre to form the GoM that have already given its interim reports to the Centre.
Police felt that penalties on charges of flouting traffic norms including drunk driving, rash driving and violating traffic signals was not that stringent. As a result the offenders hardly feel the pinch when penalised for violating a traffic norm. It was also being mentioned that steps also need to be taken to clarify the penalties for a juvenile if he/she flouts traffic norms.
During the meeting of both the GoO in Kolkata, the police officers mentioned the necessity of strict
penalties to make people rethink the consequences before flouting traffic norms. The same issue has cropped up in the meeting of GoM held in Delhi on April 28. In the same meeting the issues like easy online registration, simplified process of issuing driving license, accidental insurance coverage for drivers, better inspection and maintenance of vehicles.