The SaveLife Foundation, a grantee of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme, has reported progress in its campaign for the introduction of a Good Samaritan law in India.
The SaveLife Foundation has successfully aligned with the sitting, ruling party MP, Kirron Kher, to work together to draft and introduce to Parliament the Good Samaritan (Protection from Civil and Criminal Liabilities) and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, 2014.
The Bill was introduced in Parliament as a Private Members Bill on December 12, 2014 and immediately drew support from members of both the ruling party and the opposition. A press conference was also held in support of the Bill during which MP Kher stressed on the need for a Good Samaritan law in India, citing a study undertaken by the SaveLife Foundation which reported that 3 out of 4 persons in India are unlikely to step forward to help injured victims on the road.
The Bill seeks to protect good samaritans from civil and criminal liabilities by establishing a supportive legal environment. MP Kher said of the Bill, "The idea is to encourage bystanders to come forward and help an injured person on the road. Also, it is to ensure that ordinary people who help injured persons do not face harassment and intimidation".
The Bill looks at three important aspects of the issue -- the rights of a Good Samaritan who helps a road crash victim, the duties of hospitals with respect to provision of emergency care, and directions to law enforcement authorities with regard to questioning a Good Samaritan.
The Bill places safeguards in cases where the Good Samaritan agrees to help with the investigation of the case, while ensuring that the onus of evidence collection and investigation falls on the law enforcement agencies, not on the Good Samaritan.
It also gives clear directions to hospitals to not demand payment of treatment fees from the Good Samaritan, and not to delay treatment for payment of hospital fees. A Good Samaritan Fund is proposed to process claims of hospitals in such cases.
Poll shows overwhelming public support for new Road Safety Bill
In December last year, in a poll jointly conducted by SaveLife Foundation and Global Road Safety Partnership, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the general public has expressed strong support for the new Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014.
The report titled, ‘Road Transport & Safety Bill 2014: Public Satisfaction Survey’ was released on December 3. The poll conducted by international research agency Kadence Research covered 12 cities with a total of 38 percent respondents belonging to rural touch-points. 81 percent of all respondents “strongly favour” passing of the proposed road safety Bill and 90 percent believe that passing the Bill will be an important accomplishment for Indian Parliament.
The survey was conducted across 12 Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Varanasi, Nagpur, Rohtak, Chengalpattu, Burdwan, Palghar and Mandya.
Key highlights include:
Protection for children during commute: 97% of respondents said they would favor protection for children during commute in the new law.
Reforming Regional Transport Offices: 96% of respondents say they favor reforming RTOs to make it easier, more efficient and corruption-free to obtain a driver's license.
Increasing penalties: 91% of respondents believe that increased penalties for road safety violations will improve road safety.
In the past decade, more than 1,200,000 people have been killed in road crashes in India. Survey findings also revealed that three out of five respondents feel unsafe while traveling on Indian roads as drivers, pedestrians or passengers.
In addition to showing overall support for the Bill, 98 percent of the respondents also favor several specific provisions in the Bill. These include making it mandatory for all drivers to be trained before getting a license, protection for children during commute, increased electronic enforcement and heavy penalties for not complying with traffic laws, and making it mandatory for all two wheeler riders to wear helmets.
Mr. G.K. Pillai, Trustee of SaveLife Foundation, stated that, “India’s sole road safety law, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has not been able to keep pace with rapid motorization and consequent increase in road fatalities. It is time that India gets a road safety law which is comprehensive, inclusive and provides a structured approach to Road Safety”
Dr. Kelly Henning, Director of Public Health programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies noted that “India's Road Safety Bill includes many important measures that are proven to reduce traffic deaths and injuries – critical for India, where the number of cars on the road is growing quickly. The new law would make roads safer for everyone and prevent many tragedies, and that’s why it has received such strong public support across India.”.