Coimbatore, Dec 1
States have to formulate a road safety policy by January 31, 2018, and make road safety education and counselling a part of school curriculum by April 1, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
In addition, at least one trauma care centre should be set up in every district with a fully equipped ambulance, the court said.
The above ruling, which could have enormous national significance and immense impact on several State Governments, was in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Dr. S. Rajasekaran, Clinical Director and Head of the Department of Spine Surgery, Ganga Hospital, here. He is an internationally renowned orthopaedic surgeon and also the President of the Indian Orthopaedic Association. The PIL sought enforcement of road safety norms and appropriate treatment for accident victims.
Dr. Rajasekaran, in his professional life has come across instances of several people who lose either their life or limbs to road accidents. "90 per cent of road accidents are caused due to lack of strict enforcement of road rules and regulations and strict punishment for those who do not obey rules" stated the petition, which was later converted into a PIL by the Court.
A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, delivering the verdict said that many States and UTs have not framed a road safety policy as recommended by the committee set up under former Supreme Court Judge K.S. Radhakrishnan.
These states were given time till January 21, 2018, to do so. The Apex Court also issued directions to all states and the union territories (UT) to create safety norms as per the recommendations of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). That will include implementing the following: Road safety policy, formation of state road safety council, formation of lead agency which will act as secretariat of the state road safety council, road safety fund (a corpus fund pooled from the fines collected from road safety violators), road safety action plan, formation of district road safety committee, engineering improvement (for identifying black spots on roads and design), traffic calming measures, road safety audits, engineering design of new roads, driver's training, lane driving, road safety equipment, road safety education, emergency medical care, universal accident helpline number, permanent road safety cell, GPS tracking, "anti-lock braking system" (ABS), air bags and headlights and crash test.
The Bench also directed the MoRTH to publish a protocol for identification and rectification of black spots and take necessary steps for improving the design of existing and newly laid roads to make them safe. “It appears that one of the main reasons for road accidents is the poor quality of roads, improper design, etc,” the Court observed.
The Bench also directed the states to implement the Road Safety Action Plans by March 31, 2018, along with the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017, issued by the MoRTH on June 23 this year. The Court said it would review the situation in February 2018.