Maharashtra recommends drunken driving as non-bailable offence

To enhance road safety, the Eknath Shinde-led state government has increased road safety allocation by 40 times to Rs 400 crore.

By Amit Vijay M calendar 17 May 2023 Views icon3755 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Maharashtra recommends drunken driving as non-bailable offence

The Maharashtra Government has decided to enforce strong punitive measures for causing an accident while driving without a license and when intoxicated as non-bailable, as part of its recommendation to the centre to stop the loss of lives owing to driver recklessness.

The decision was taken by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde, at a recent meeting held at Sahyadri, the state guest house, as part of an evaluation of road safety measures taken by the state.

In a meeting attended by key state government officials from the home and transport department, the CM said the offending drivers “should be sent to jail without bail” as they “put pedestrians’ lives and limbs at risk”, informed Commissioner of Transport Vivek Bhimanwar in an exclusive interview with Autocar Professional.

He stated, "We will soon forward the plan to the central government, and we hope to receive their permission in due time.” The Director General of Police, Rajnish Seth, the Principal Secretary of the Home Department, and the Additional Director General of Police, Ravindra Singhal, were present at the meeting.

Big allocation for road safety
To enhance road safety, the Eknath Shinde-led state government has increased road safety allocation by 40 times to Rs 400 crore.

The current decision, according to Transport Commissioner Bhimanwar, is the result of a state home department investigation into a National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report that revealed 459 hit-and-run incidents involving 481 pedestrians in the city between 2019 and 2021. According to a comparative analysis of a Bloomberg report, drunk drivers caused 555 injuries and 70 fatalities on municipal roads between 2015 and 2020.

The Chief Minister also reviewed how road safety can be enhanced on key arterial highways.

As a sign of the state's commitment to road safety, Chief Minister Shinde asked for information on the ongoing efforts to prevent accidents on the Samriddhi Highway and the Mumbai-Pune Motorway during the meeting.

The recently opened 520 km long Mumbai Nagpur Samriddhi Mahamarg motorway in the state has seen 31 fatalities in 900 accidents.

70 percent of crashes on highways and motorways in the state were attributed to speeding, according to road safety activists. They have also petitioned the Supreme Court with an intervention request, in a case involving a fatal crash to demand that the speed limit on the Samruddhi Mahamarg be capped at 100kmph.

For the road currently being built, Maharashtra Highway Police has set a top speed limit of 120 kmph on the Nagpur-Shirdhi section which is currently operational.

Drivers who are caught speeding are booked in a unique way to confess their offense on camera. "They are informed about various road safety measures as per the Motor Vehicles Act and made to sign a pledge that they will not commit such an offense, and drive responsibly," Bhimanwar said.

Maharashtra government presses accelerator for improved traffic safety
In Maharashtra, 74 percent of incidents take place in rural areas, as per RTO data. The state has several committees dedicated to rural road safety, but they lack the necessary funding to put their recommendations into action. According to the state transport director, "The Maharashtra Government has decided to allocate 1 percent of district planning fund for road safety, for which Rs 150 crore will be available at the district level and another Rs 175 crore will be available at the state level, with the total funds available to cross more than Rs 400 crore, with the related budget being approved," the government official said.

A team of 50 RTOs will soon be assembled in the state to repair potholes, deal with black spots, set up lighting, message boards, and other safety measures.

In the first four months of 2023, the total accidents in the state have reduced from 5,414 accidents in 2022 to 49,22 accidents in 2023, the state’s road transport department officials have said.

According to a study, 44 percent of road users killed in crashes in 2022 were pedestrians, 5 percent were riders of two-wheelers, and 10 percent were pillion riders, as per an RTO study.

The Maharashtra Government is also toying with the idea of registering an FIR for repeat offenders found overspeeding and breaking traffic rules multiple times.

As per a study by the Mumbai traffic police, the transport department, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, "Slow Down," a non-governmental organisation, had previously studied the patterns of a vehicle speeding at 20 black spots across the city.

The investigation, which began in 2018, discovered that only seven of the 20 areas had speed restrictions indicated, and that important road signs, such as "crash-prone spot" and "merging section ahead," were absent or improperly positioned in 11 locations.

FADA welcomes Government's move to strengthen road safety regulations
Welcoming this decision, Sachin Mahajan, State FADA Chairman, said the apex dealer body is doing its best to push the safety agenda by working with local transport bodies and partner dealers for helmet awareness drives and various road safety measures. "We are happy that the government is willing to take such tough measures, which are indeed needed to discipline consumers on the street to adhere to traffic rules, which we stress a lot in our partner dealer showrooms and various active campaigns," he added.

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