Turn off mobile while driving or face strict action


New Delhi: Talking on the mobile phone while at the wheel could soon leave you without a driving licence and considerably poorer.

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“Recommendations have been made by the ministry of road transport and highways to include strict penal provisions in the new Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) for drivers found using mobile phone. They will be treated as offenders and stringent action will be taken against them including cancellation of driving licence for six months,” Joint Secretary in Transport Ministry S.K. Dash said during a seminar on road safety here Saturday.

Dash said even sending an SMS or reading a message while driving will be counted as an offence as per the new act.

The transport ministry is also planning to overhaul the driving licence issuing system in the country.

“Presently, transport authorities issue a licence to a person who does not even know how to drive and the menace will be stopped under the new act,” Dash said.

According to officials in the road transport and highways ministry, India has surpassed other countries in the number of road accidents and fatalities. In 2008, India recorded 130,000 deaths because of road accidents, which was 10 percent of the world’s total fatal accidents.

“With 130,000 deaths in road accidents reported in the country last year, the government will have to make changes in the MVA and plan vehicle fitness testing units to strengthen safety measures,” Dash said.