Road Traffic

Financial penalties for decreasing incidence, death and disability due to road traffic injuries: policy brief

The burden of road traffic deaths is disproportionately high in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). In India, deaths due to road traffic injuries (RTIs) have increased by 58.7% between 1990 and 2017. In 2019, the Government of India amended the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) on several counts including a hike in penalties and better enforcement measures to encourage safe road-user behaviour such as helmet and seatbelt use and deter drunk driving, over-speeding, and driving without license. However, several States are experiencing challenges in sound implementation of the act owing to the quantum in penalty hike.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis (AIGGPA), Government of Madhya Pradesh requested the RES-TGI team for a rapid evidence synthesis to understand the evidence base behind the effectiveness of penalty measures in decreasing incidence and mortality due to RTIs. This would enable decision-makers in the State to better implement the MVA. The RES was conducted in 6 weeks to serve this purpose and the evidence-informed policy considerations were presented in a policy brief.

Key policy considerations:

  1. There is no evidence from interventional studies on effect of financial penalties for violation of helmet and seatbelt laws in reducing road traffic injuries or deaths.
  2. Fines in combination with license suspension, vehicle impoundment and demerit point system with or without jail sentences for excessive speeding violations may lead to statistically significant decrease in deaths due to RTI depending on context.
  3. Financial penalties alone for drinking under influence of alcohol (DUI) violations does not lead to statistically significant decrease in road traffic fatalities and injuries.
  4. Financial penalties in combination with jail sentences with or without license suspension
    for DUI violation leads to statistically significant decrease in road traffic crashes and injuries but in some studies, it was reported that the effect gradually wears over time. To sustain the effect, there is a need for sustained involvement of social groups or civil societies in advocacy and maintaining enforcement through local contextual reforms.
  5. Mandatory fines with demerit points for DUI violations was shown to show a large and significant decrease, which was sustained over time in a study from Japan, but the law made both the bartender and the driver legally responsible. Institution of such laws may be considered.

Integration of different departments such as road transport, police, civil societies, judiciary, local bodies of the community groups and media are important in implementing and sustaining interventions.

Download policy brief (PDF 316 KB)

Download supplement document (PDF 452 KB)