As the motor vehicle population increases on Indian roads, so does the risk of accidents, crashes, and deaths. While the latter is an eventuality, we can certainly avoid an untimely death caused by vehicular accidents. Sadly, road traffic rules aren't as strict as needed in India, and we have the highest rate of fatalities when it comes to road accidents. That's a statistic that needs to change. So, it's is important that we discuss road safety time and again and when better than the National Road Safety Month (January 18 - February 17). In light of the same, here are five road safety rules that you should know about and must absolutely follow.
1. Seatbelts and Helmets at the back are mandatory
It's taken a long time for India to adopt seatbelts in the front seats. Even then we still hear about cases where the occupant wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. However, did you know that seatbelts at the back have been just as mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989? It's a different thing that traffic officials did seldom fine you for not wearing one. Nevertheless, the Delhi Police has become one of the first institutions to do so, and now, not wearing a seatbelt in the second row will attract a fine of up to ₹ 1,000 in the national capital. Similarly, the MVA rules have always mandated helmets for the pillion on a two-wheeler. However, implementation of the rule has not been commonly seen. Nevertheless, cities like Bengaluru already have this rule in place and the city does it quite seriously. And in case you don't remember, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has been advocating it for ages now.
2. Right of Way
Another rule that's often overlooked on Indian roads is who gets the right of way at an intersection. At locations that aren't being regulated by a signal or a traffic official, it is important that you stay extra vigilant to avoid accidents. As a rule, if the road entered at an intersection is the main road, always give way to the vehicles proceeding along the road. In other cases, give way to all traffic approaching the intersection on the right hand. Also remember, pedestrians have the right of way at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings. In simpler terms, it is the responsibility of the driver to avoid the pedestrian on the road at all times.
3. Speed Thrills? Take it to the track
Road rage unfortunately is a big problem, more than people realise, and often leads to deaths at the hands of inexperienced drivers. Public roads aren't racing tracks and not the place where you choose to test the abilities of your vehicle that's clearly designed for more road-oriented duties. Under the Motor Vehicle Act, violators will be charged up to ₹ 5,000 as a fine for racing and speed-testing and could also be imprisoned up to one year in case of a first offense. A second offense will attract a fine of ₹ 10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months. Similarly, overspeeding is punishable up to ₹ 2,000, while rash driving can attract a fine between ₹ 1,000-5,000 on light motor vehicles.
4. Look for Stop Lines
With traffic cameras getting more common in cities and developed parts of the country, it's important that you vary of stopping behind the Stop Lines. The stop lines are double white stripes followed by the zebra crossing at a traffic signal. Should you stop after the line, it will attract a fine of up to ₹ 100 under the 113(1)/177 section of the motor vehicle rules. Before you know it, multiple fines have accumulated online. In case of non-payment of fines, the traffic officials are well within their rights to confiscate the vehicle till the fines are paid. So, the next time you arrive at a signal, make sure you check and stop 'behind' the white line.
5. Either Drink or Drive
We can't stress enough but driving under influence is a strict no. This isn't just about your life but also of the pedestrians on the road. If the time has taught us anything, even the footpaths aren't safe if the steering wheel is in the hands of a drunk driver. So, don't be that person. Apart from the fact that you will be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder under IPC Section 304, should someone die; the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 pretty much has this covered. Under section 185-202, the permissible limit of alcohol allowed is 30 mg per 100 ml. Anything beyond this figure can get you arrested without the need for a warrant. You will be fined up to ₹ 10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months for the first offense, while the punishment will increase to ₹ 15,000 or two years of imprisonment in case of the second offense. To put it simply, it's not worth the effort and best to hire a cab or ask someone else to drive.