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Millennium Post

Tread as you must

It is a bold move from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 after 13 years. The draft of the new Road Safety and Transport Bill is out and so is the long list of harsh penalties to be imposed. India lost 137,576 people while on the move on its roads last year. Many of them fell victim to the menace of drunk driving, while others were either rammed at or lost their lives driving at break-neck speeds. But our love for violating traffic rules might still hang around. Otherwise, how will we be able to show our brashness on the streets or drive at astronomical speeds to get the kick out of the latest motorbike, hi-end car or an SUV clocking 0-60 mph in seconds? To engage with cops is a fantasy that many Indians have and desire. There is nothing like negotiating to keep fines at bay.  Barring a few places like Delhi, where the Delhi Traffic Police takes great pains to pursue the violators, almost the entire of the country likes to drive their two-wheelers without helmets and their cars without wearing the seat belts. Perhaps the basic premise of conventionality does not apply to them and perhaps they are still naive enough to gauge the reasons behind the presence of safety mechanisms in the vehicles they ride and drive. But would this mean that the strata of people who are usually either let off or not pursued because they hold the strings to their privy purses in the choice of their vehicles? Would this bill also deepen the class differences that already exist, especially on Indian roads? The answers to these questions will emerge only when the authorities will decide to up the rules of the game.
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