Indian and international experts came together to applaud the progress the Indian government has made in improving road safety and collaborate on ideas for the best way forward, based on lessons learned from around the world following the monumental passage of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2017 in Lok Sabha in April.
During a roundtable discussion held in Mumbai recently, international experts lauded the government’s commitment to the passage of strong road safety legislation in Parliament, while encouraging continued efforts towards passage and implementation of the Bill.
Kelly Larson, programme director at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said, “The passage of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha is a big step forward for road safety in India. The international road safety community congratulates the government and calls for immediate passage of this lifesaving bill in Rajya Sabha.”
The participants universally agreed that the Bill represents a significant accomplishment towards safer Indian roads across various aspects of road safety, while also highlighting specific policy gaps that still needed to be addressed to bring it in line with international best practices.
Members of the international community in attendance also commended the Indian government’s innovation in addressing the problem of road traffic injuries and fatalities.
"It is very encouraging to see the Indian government apply UN crash test standards to new models in October this year and all cars in production by October 2018. This is a huge step forward in passenger car safety in India. It is impressive also to see the government mandating anti-lock brakes in motorcycles. More progress is needed and we hope that India will now plan to make electronic stability control mandatory for new cars, buses and lorries by 2020," said Jess Truong, programmes director & Asia Pacific coordinator at the Global New Car Assessment Programme.
Bill to drive future safety
Given that Indian roads witness over 500,000 road accidents each year resulting in 146,000 fatalities, the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2017 is an important step towards strengthening the legal framework for improving road safety in India. In addition to the staggering loss of life and enormous trauma for injury victims and their families, road accidents also result in an estimated 3 percent loss in GDP.
The Bill closes major gaps in the legislative framework that governs road safety in the country by amending the 28-year-old Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MVA). The next step in the legislative process is the passage of the amended Bill in the Rajya Sabha during the upcoming August session. As a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, this is also a huge step forward for India in working towards its commitments to halving the injuries and fatalities in India by 2020.
The roundtable was jointly organised by the Road Safety Network consisting of organisations working on road safety and committed to continued partnership with the government in the implementation phase.