As road accidents continue to increase at a drastic pace, the battle between the citizens and the government for action gets louder. But while measures are being argued, the Supreme Court decided to step in and offer a solution, one which may not go down well with motorists in the country.
An SC-appointed committee on Friday recommended that third-party insurance periods should be upped from the current one year to five years for two-wheelers and four years for four-wheelers. The report comes after extensive research on road accidents in India, which revealed earlier this month that more people were killed on the road than in terrorist attacks.
The court passed the order based on the recommendation of the committee, which stated that only six out of 18 crore vehicles running on the roads were insured. Matters get worse when a majority of owners do not renew their insurance after the first year, leaving them without compensation in the case of an accident.
The bench has now ruled that all third-party insurances have to be offered for a minimum period of five-years for two-wheelers and four-years for four-wheelers. In the ruling, the bench said, "Now, there are people who are dying and there are people who have already died in road accidents. The number of deaths in road accidents is more than one lakh per year in India. Three people are dying per minute in road accidents.".
Motorists will be the worst-hit by the new ruling, which will mean that the no-claim bonus (NCB) is now reduced to once every four or five years, which will directly result in increased premium prices. With one-year insurance schemes, the NCB allows the premium to be reduced if the insurance has not been claimed.
With the new ruling, yearly discounts will be a thing of the past and directly increase premium prices while treating both good and bad drivers the same way. So while it doesn't directly affect the number of road accidents, the committee believes it will increase the carefulness with which people drive.
The new policy is set to kick in in September, meaning any vehicles bought after September 1 will have their prices hiked to cover the new premiums.
The ruling raises the question of the value of safety of drivers, with the court not ordering the government to step in and improve road quality. Roads all over the country continue to be plagued with potholes and waterlogging. Uneven roads also contribute significantly to poor road quality, leading many to wonder as to what exactly they pay road tax for.