28 Sep 21

India seeking to enforce decades old driving laws

Road in Jaipur, India

Union road transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has today directed officials to frame a policy to fix the driving hours of commercial drivers, much like they do for airline pilots.

Speaking at an introductory meeting of new members nominated by the National Road Safety Council, The Times of India (TOI) reported that a 2019 study had highlighted driver fatigue, drowsiness and lack of sleep as the biggest causes of road accidents and fatalities in India. The country has one of the worst road safety records in the world so Ministers are keen to implement policies to address it.

Aligning road safety standards with Europe

Gadkari instructed officials to work on a plan to include onboard sleep detection sensors in commercial vehicles, on par with European standards.

His initiative has been welcomed by road safety experts but has surprised others because, in 1961, India enacted The Motor Transport Workers Act, which prohibited anyone from driving for more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week. It also mandated driver rest after 5 hours of continuous driving. So, why the need for a new law?

TOI explained that although the law already exists, it has never been properly implemented and that’s the problem. The newspaper was told by the Ministry that it will soon issue an advisory that will enforce the law in Indian states.

Image of a busy road in Jaipur, India, courtesy of Shutterstock.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway