DUI and DWI is rampant. In the latest accident that sends shivers down one’s spine, a drunk, drove his car over the pavement in Delhi, where 13 workers were sleeping. He killed one, and left the others severely injured when driving his Mahindra Xylo in an inebriated condition.
Piyush Tewari, Founder and CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation doesn’t view the latest drunk driving incident as a standalone case. As per data from Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, about 6% of road crash deaths are due to drunk driving. 44% road accident deaths are attributed to over speeding.
The Indian government has no doubt taken a step forward in announcing a comprehensive Road Safety Law in place of the Motor Vehicles Act. It warrants harsher penalties for drunk drivers and technology based enforcement, but there’ scope to do more.
Supreme Court of India in Alistair Anthony Pareira v. State of Maharashtra says Section 304, Part II of the Indian Penal Code needs to be applied in cases ‘where the driver can be attributed with knowledge that his act of driving the vehicle at a high speed in the rash or negligent manner was dangerous enough’, and he knew that one result would very likely be that people asleep on the pavement may be hit if the vehicle goes out of control. This offence then becomes a non-bailable offence, and will have a deterrent effect. After much to and fro, the culprit was sentenced to a mere 3 year jail term in a 2012 verdict. He left 7 people dead, six years earlier in Mumbai.
In the Salman Salim Khan vs State Of Maharashtra on 3 September, 2003 case that has been dragging on even a decade later, there’s no verdict. In that instance, 1 person was crushed to death and four others were grievously injured. His offence is registered under Section 304(A), 279, 337, 338, 427 of I.P.C. and Sections 134(a) and (b) read with 181, 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988.
Such cases will reduce drastically with the new law implemented as it will not only prescribe harsher penalties but also enable stricter, contact free enforcement. While we’re discussing lawlessness in the streets of North India, last week a video emerged of a traffic constable’s close shave when he found himself hanging on for dear life on an errant driver’s bonnet. All because this traffic constable in Chandigarh had asked the driver to pull over.