For those in the habit of talking on mobile phones while driving, here is the wake-up call. Government is likely to notify a rule soon
under which people caught talking-and-driving would be fined Rs 2,000 or six months imprisonment or both. The punishment could be suspension of driving licence for six months if such acts lead to accidents.
Using hands-free devices or sending and reading text messages while driving will also be counted as offences. "A high-powered committee has already accepted these measures to curb dangerous driving on roads," a senior transport ministry official said.
The ministry, which has been fine-tuning the proposal of heavy fine and suspension of driving licence, will soon come out with a notification in this regard, empowering traffic police to enforce the provisions strictly.
The ministry plans to introduce a sub section -- 183A -- in the Motor Vehicle Act which will include these provisions. Articulating the need to implement the provisions quickly, joint secretary in the ministry S K Dash had said at a recent meeting on road safety, "Section 183 of MVA will define the mobile phone and also specify penalties for talking on phone while driving."
He added that police in some states had started fining such offenders under Section 177 of MVA. In fact, Delhi Traffic Police's website has already included using mobile phone while driving as an offence and the penalty is Rs 1,000.
Earlier, the Committee of Petition chaired by BJP MP Venkaiah Naidu, set up as part of the Sitaram Yechury-led parliamentary committee on transport, had suggested that those caught using mobiles while driving be fined for the first three offences. For the next two transgressions, they could be fined with `negative remarks' and finally, the licence could be suspended for six months if caught for a sixth time.