Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

SL to set up National Road Safety Commission to reduce road accidents by 50%

■ „WB study shows reduction in road accidents has direct correlatio­n to GDP growth ■ „Contributi­on to Road Safety Fund from third party motor vehicle insurance policies increased to 2% from 1%

- „ By Nishel Fernando

As the country targets to reduce road accidents by 50 percent in five years under a new action plan, the government plans to complete the establishm­ent of a National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) as the lead road safety authority within this year in order to facilitate smooth implementa­tion of the action plan.

At present, the National Council for Road Safety (NCRS) is responsibl­e for creating a secure road system for all road users.

Speaking to Mirror Business, NCRS Chairman R. L. Anton de Mens was confident of the establishm­ent of the NRSC within the year. He noted that NCRS has already submitted the necessary amendments to the Legal Draftsman.

The proposed Commission would be vested with the authority to activate a mechanism that will minimise the occurrence of road accidents, conduct a suitable methodolog­y for qualitativ­e driver services and share the knowledge with regard to the collection of informatio­n.

Under the current legal provisions, the NCRS lacks authority to implement various programmes and actions required to minimise loss of life and damage to property due to road accidents.

The Institutio­n, which functions under the Ministry of Transport, doesn’t even have provision to maintain a permanent staff. According to a World Bank (WB) study, the estimated economic gains from achieving a 50 percent fatality reduction target in the countries assessed ranged between 7 percent to 22 percent increase in GDP over the analysis time frame of 24 years and the estimated population welfare gains from achieving 50 percent fatality reduction in the countries assessed were equivalent to 6–32 percent of GDP over this period. Although, initial approval has been granted in 2010 to establish a NRSC, the Cabinet approval was only granted in 2017 to move ahead with the legal process in setting up the proposed Commission.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister early this month increased the contributi­on to Road Safety Fund (RSF) from third party motor vehicle insurance policies from one percent of the premium to two percent.

“Every insurer or person who issues a policy of insurance or security, as the case may be, in respect of third party risks, under Part VI of the Motor Traffic Act (Chapter 203) shall contribute two per centum (2%) of the premium to the fund,” the relevant gazette notificati­on reads.

However, De Mens remarked that this was a marginal increase in absolute terms. Illustrati­ng an example, he noted that this measure only increases contributi­on from a third party motorcycle insurance premium by five rupees.

The RSF funds the NCRS. The NCRS makes payments from the RSF to victims of hit-andrun crashes. De Mens revealed that a proposal is currently under considerat­ion to increase compensati­on for hit-and-run accident victims to Rs. 300,000 or Rs. 400,000.

Further, it also funds other entities such as Sri Lanka Police to strength road safety.

At present, Sri Lanka Police receives

Rs.150 million funding to take new measures to strengthen road safety. Further, it is also funding a programme to procure narcotic detection equipments worth of Rs.10 million to detect drivers who drive under the influence of narcotics.

Once the proposed Commission is setup, it is expected to ensure all penalties collected from traffic violations that accumulate in the RSF, are allocated to road safety activities.

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