India's Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has suggested a framework of online reporting of accidents by drivers soon after an incident to avoid applicability of “hit and run” provisions of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) and to save them from potential mob fury.
The Home Ministry will have the final say, according to a senior Transport Ministry official.
Drivers fleeing from accident sites and not informing the police are liable for up to seven years in jail and fine, as per the BNS.
Though the law has not been enforced yet, truck, bus, and taxi drivers protested against the provision early this week, causing disruptions in the supply chain.
The Centre has assured trucker and transporter organisations of consultations before enforcing this provision.
Responding to a question on the steps that the government can take to address the fears of heavy and commercial vehicle drivers, Road Transport Secretary Anurag Jain said any driver fleeing from the spot after causing an accident that leaves people injured or dead is a serious issue.
"Some concerns of truckers are also genuine, like, if they stop there, their vehicle may be put on fire and they may face mob fury. So, we can use technology to find some solution to this. We are working on them.
"One of the solutions we have suggested is that the parties can report about the accident on their online platform and it will not be treated as a hit-and-run case. The driver can inform about the incident at a police station 25-50 km away from the site,” he said.
Jain added that since there is also a fear that someone can still hold them (drivers) for hit and run before they report at a police station, there can be a provision for them to call on a helpline number.
The final call on this issue has to be taken by the Home Ministry, he said.
Meanwhile, the Road Transport Ministry and its implementing agencies have undertaken multiple initiatives in the last nine years to augment the capacity of the national highway infrastructure in India.
The national highway (NH) network in the country has increased by 60 per cent from 91,287 kilometres (km) in 2014 to 146,145 km in 2023.
The NHs play a crucial role in the economic and social development of the country by enabling the efficient movement of freight and passengers and improving access to markets.
Curently, India has about 66.71 lakh km of road network, which is the second largest in the world.
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