States have concerns about their powers being curtailed in the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2017. This was stated in a road safety session organised by the consumer group – CUTs.

“If driving schools accredited by the Centre are eligible for issuing licence and regulation of schools or establishments for imparting instruction in driving, why are schools accredited by States not eligible to do so,” said Madhusudan Sharma, Senior Programme Coordinator, CUTS International, a consumer body.

On temporary registration of vehicles, states have said that they should have the power to frame and enforce rules, Sharma said. Regarding the power of the Centre to recall vehicles, States also want similar powers, he added.

At present, the amendments are being considered by the Rajya Sabha’s select committee.

That said, passing of the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill is not the only way to improve safety, as many laws exist that do not get implemented, said HC Meena, who is a Lok Sabha Member from Rajasthan.

CUTS noted that official statistics regarding 1.5 lakh people being killed in 2016 is probably an underestimate as not all injuries are reported. The actual number of injuries requiring hospital visits are much more.

“Sadly, the growth of highways in the country has not shown that road safety has improved,” Nalin Sinha, Consultant, Global Health Advocay Incubator, said.

Both Sinha and Meena noted with concern that the medical bills of several accidents-hit people drive them to poverty. Meena has been a former DGP in Rajasthan.

An accident survivor Varsha Pradhan stressed upon the need to implement seat belt rules for all occupants in a vehicle.