Talking on your cellphone can be distracting and so we have laws that will make it an offense under the Indian motor vehicle act under amended section 177 which has a penalty fixed for the offense at INR 2,000. So, car makers have switched to bluetooth enabled dashboard systems with steering mounted controls which let you stay connected and take a call without having to take your hands off the steering wheel.
Now, the government is all set to debate upon a proposal that seeks to completely ban the usage of iPods and even bluetooth handsfree devices like bluetooth dongles that fit in a person’s ears. The government feels that these are extremely distracting while driving and could lead to accidents and hence warrants banning. Also, changing the color of your paint with the approval of the RTO will be legalized. Wait, wasn’t that legal already.
At least in states like Karnataka, it was legal to change the color of your vehicle by getting it endorsed by the RTO. The Indian Government also proposes to make stringent laws to prevent and punish drinking and driving offenses with severe penalties which are aimed at creating a fear in the mind of a potential offender with a punishment stringent enough to prevent the offense in the first place.
What we’re skeptical about is how effective a law against bluetooth handsfree devices would work as they are difficult to detect for the average traffic cop on the street. That could make the law a pretty toothless one, somewhat of a paper tiger. So, the debate will be on how effective these measures will be to be enforced effectively. This is something that the government will have to face when this bill gets tabled in the parliament.
Any which ways, the law getting more stringent in particular offenses is a welcome move by the government. Especially laudable indeed are the government’s measures to make drinking and driving a premeditated crime rather than one caused due to negligence. Now, let’s hope that enforcement catches up with law making as that is the only way that Indian road safety can truly get a boost.