road accidents

Supreme Court directs Delhi, other states to set up road safety policy by January 31

The court noted that the number of deaths due to road accidents in the country is more than 1 lakh a year.

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed all states and union territories that have not already framed a road safety policy to do so by January 31, and implement it, Live Law reported. Delhi, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have not yet set up this policy.

The court passed a slew of other directives in an effort to prevent road accidents. All states must set up a road safety committee in every district by January, it said. These committees would include the superintendent of police, the health officer and representatives from Public Works Department, National Highways Authority of India and road transport besides a member of civil society.

The court also told the states to set up a trauma centre in each district with necessary facilities and an ambulance. “The state governments and union territories should take up this recommendation at the earliest since it is on record that treatment soon after a road accident is crucial for saving the life of the victim,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta, was hearing a public interest litigation filed by an orthopaedic surgeon from Coimbatore, S Rajaseekaran. The doctor had submitted that 90% of road accident deaths occur because safety rules are not strictly enforced and the punishment is also not severe.

The court noted that the number of deaths due to road accidents in the country is more than 1 lakh a year, which translates to about one death every three minutes. The judges then told the states to create a lead agency which would “coordinate activities such as licensing issues, including driving licences, registration of vehicles, road safety and features of vehicles, along with allied matters such as emission norms.”

The court has made it mandatory for States and Union Territories to establish a Road Safety Fund, frame the Road Safety Action Plan by March 31 and set up a universal accidental helpline number, among other directives.

The Union Ministry of Transport has been directed to frame a protocol for road design, road quality and to identify black spots, as well as implement “traffic calming” measures at accident spots.

The court said it would review the situation in February 2018.

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