By Lipi Mehta:
In April 2013, Kanhaiya Lal, a resident of Jaipur, was going to his in-laws’ house with his wife, 6-month-old daughter and 4-year-old son. On the way, a truck hit his motorbike from behind, his wife and daughter were flung on the road and were severely injured. For half an hour, Kanhaiya Lal and his son pleaded for help. Many cars passed by, but not even one stopped. By the time a police van reached the spot, his wife and daughter had lost their lives.
This painful story raises one crucial question: Why did no one help? According to the National Survey to Impediments to Bystander Care, 2013, it was found that 74% of bystanders are not willing to come forward and help road accident victims. 88% of these stated that the prime reason for this was that they didn’t wish to get involved in any police or legal hassles, and 77% also said that hospitals detain the ones who help road accident victims and demand money from them for treatments. However, 88% of total respondents also said that there was a need for a supportive legal environment for more people to offer help.
In May 2015, after a PIL filed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation, the Road Transport Ministry issued guidelines for the protection of good samaritans or people who help road accident victims. It’s crucial that these guidelines be known and shared widely, as 50% of road accident victims can be saved with timely medical attention!
Here are 9 salient points from the guidelines so that the next time you see a road accident victim asking for help, you don’t think twice before offering it:
1. The good samaritan can take a road accident the nearest hospital, whether public or private.
2. No public or private hospital can detain or demand payment for treatment from the good samaritan.
3. A doctor’s refusal to treat a road accident victim will be counted as ‘Professional Misconduct’ and disciplinary action shall be taken against him/her.
4. While informing the police about a road accident victim, the good samaritan is not compelled to reveal his/her name or personal details.
5. The good samaritan will not have to pay any penalties. He/she can also not be called to testify in court against their wishes.
6. If the good samaritan has voluntarily stated that he/she is also an eye witness of the accident and wishes to be a part of the court proceedings, he/she will only be called once to court and not be questioned or harassed in any form after that.
7. For more convenience, any good samaritan testifying in court will have the provisions of doing so through video conferencing.
8. Disciplinary action will be taken against public officials who force, harass or coerce the good samaritan to reveal his/her name and personal details.
9. The good samaritan will be suitably rewarded or compensated by the government to encourage more individuals to come forward and help.
To know more about the Good Samaritan Guidelines, get tips on saving a person’s life or to share your own experience of helping a road accident victim, visit goodsamaritanlaw.in. To know more about improving road safety and emergency care across India, visit SaveLIFE Foundation’s website.