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High Level Feedback on Draft Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014

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This blog is for some high level feedback on the draft transportation and safety law 2014.  While the tone of this blog will be critical on focus on the improvements, there are certainly many good features in the draft law.  The brief and critical focus is to keep our eyes on the suggested improvements.

A more detailed and meandering feedback is posted here.

1. In the description of various authorities, there is a mention of the term Patron.  We find this term very distracting since there is no definition of who the Patron is? What the Patron's powers are and What role a patron plays in the authority.  The authority being a panel being setup through legislation by parliament, we recommend deleting of the role of the patron and any mention of a patron in the legislation The authorities are transportation sector regulators and it is critical to remove any such role.

2. The bill appears to envisage introducing non-IAS experts into the authority.  While the idea is very good, we need very clear measures to prevent conflict of interest or an impression of a revolving door between the regulators and the industries they regulate.  While there are some measures such as a bar of 2 years on joining the private sector or industry or any conflict of interest position after leaving service of the authority, a vague exception at the government's discretion is provided which is not a good idea.

3.Road safety is not just safe vehicles and tighter licensing and better enforcement in vehicle registration, it is also critical to have safe road standards.  Here, the road standards are placed under the Road Transport and Multimodel authority.  Similarly, the driver license point system is also under this authority.  Since the vehicle regulation and road safety authority sets up the unified licensing system as well as oversees safety, please move these two functions to the vehicle regulation and road safety authority.

4. Investigatory Function: The vehicle regulation and road safety authority should be tasked with compiling accident data, investigating major accidents (example the volvo bus accident in Andhra, and mining collected data to identify accident hot spots and doing a design review of the roads, providing recommendations.

5. Pedestrian and NMT only provided lip service: This will be covered in a detailed blog.  There is insufficient actionable items on safety of pedestrians and NMT users as well as enablement of these.  These two most vulnerable section of road users need more attention - a link will be provided here.

6. High FinesThe high fines and points are a major deterrent.  However, these also open up a major possibility of negotiation and corruption.  Further, at high fine levels, following principles of natural justice, drivers need an opportunity to defend themselves in court. if they so choose or if they are erroneously accused.  In Bangalore city, with automated enforcement by cameras, erroneous cases are quite common.  Fine payment has to be separated from payment being made to the hands of the police officers directly.

7. Several functions such as test of competence and driver's training is outsourced to private agencies in this model,  Proper accreditation and regulation is important for this function to work well.  Details on this are not clear in the bill.

8. This bill appears to want to redo bus based public transport.  This is an area we have worked a lot in and will be covered in a separate blog. comment guidelines

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