India needs demonetization of Driving Licenses

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New Delhi News : Increasing crime rate in India is always a subject of discussion & indeed it should be as over 33,000 people were murdered in 2015. In the same year Heart Attacks took 18,309 lives. We are worried about Mental Health leading to suicides which resulted into 133,625 deaths in our country in 2015. These staggering numbers based upon various governmentreports are certainly worrisome; but there is one more cause, as significant as all of these which accounts for large number of unnatural deaths i.e Road Accidents.

Do you know how many people die because of road accidents every year in our country?

According to Ministry of Road Transport & Highway’s report, In 2016 alone, there were over 4,80,652 road accidents in which Nearly 1,50,785 persons lost their lives & 4,94,624 were injured; Which means every hour 55 accidents took place in which 17 people were killed. In past decade, over 10 lakh people have been killed & over 50 Lakh have been seriously injured or permanently disabled in road accidents. Undoubtedly it is matter of grave concern!

Clearly, Number of deaths because of Road Accidents is very high and hence there is need to identify the root cause of the problem. Prima facie reasons like damaged roads, drunken driving may come across as primary murder accuse, but lack of adherence to traffic rules, lack of knowledge of driving norms and inefficient driving skills undoubtedly contribute to occurrence of these accidents.

I remember when I was 16 years old, one of my friends of same age managed his way to get driving license from Bihar without having any documents by bribing mere 500 Rs. My own driving test for getting my driving license involved driving a bike on a 200 meters long stretch & back, which I did & passed my driving test. And as a result I got my DL for two wheelers as well as four wheelers. Driving License is not merely a permit to drive a vehicle, but it’s also a responsibility towards every other life on the road.Hence, Role of license issuing authorities becomes of paramount responsibility. We are all well aware of the ease of passing the driving test for obtaining issuance of driving licenses. If a set of 20 questions involving traffic & driving rules is posed to all drivers today, there’s huge possibility that 90% will not be able to give correct answers to more than 50% of them.

Do you know getting a DL in UK is considered one of the most celebrated achievements in a Brits life?

In UK, before you can start learning to drive or take driving tests you need to apply for provisional driving license. Next, one has to pass theory tests which consist of two parts; the multiple choice test & hazard perception test, both of which are taken in same sitting. Finally comes the practical driving test but before that applicant will have an eyesight check and will be asked 2 vehicle safety questions. The questions are known as “show me, tell me” questions. Incorrect Answer to any of these two questions will gain one driving test fault.  The examiner will ask you one ‘show me’ question, where you have to show them how you’d carry out a check & one ‘tell me’ question, where you have to explain how you’d carry out the check. If you somehow manage to clear all these, you are eligible to take driving test. The final driving test lasts for about 40 minutes in which they test your skills on every possible scenario ranging from crossing on Junctions to moving off, from taking right or left turns to emergency stopping situations, from changing the lane to driving knowledge on emerging roads pathways; Sounds like too much effort, right? But failure to any of these will result into non-issuance of Driving License. Clearly, the process is very strict as compared to our country.

In last few years, government has taken cognizance of the matter. Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed by Loksabha. The bill is pending in Rajyasbha. The government is planning to use censors to judge driving skills; this Computer-based system would allow only ‘competent divers’ to obtain license and bring down the count of ‘bogus’ licenses.

Although these steps are indeed welcome but looking at the magnanimity of the traffic related issues in our country, there is urgent need to take radical steps. One process which needs complete overhaul is the process of issuing driving licenses; it has to be more structured & stringent coupled with proper checks on basic driving & traffic knowledge.

In my personal opinion, I believe that the government should give a window, a transition period, of 3 years, say starting from 1st Jan 2019 to 31st Dec 2021; & in this span of three years, every Driving License Holder in our nation must pass the “New Tests” to gain eligibility to drive a vehicle. This will not only help us save precious lives of our citizens, but has significant fiscal implications also considering the fact that road accidents cost us around Rs. 4 lakh crore every year.

Further, it is often seen that traffic moves slowly despite wide roads or adequate traffic signals simply because of non-adherence of basic traffic norms & lane rules.

Hence stringent driving test will make sure that driver is well aware about basic norms which will enhance our commutation speed drastically. Furthermore, this will result in reduction in fuel & energy consumption & lesser air pollution. Compliance to laws, traffic norms & adherence to lane driving rules, these are basic requirements for efficient free flowing traffic movement; this is evident from traffic scenarios in developed countries of Europe, any state of USA or even some of the Asian countries. While in our country there is chaos on roads thanks to honking vehicles, wild overtaking and abrupt lane changing. From bird’s eye view, a vehicle’s journey path on our roads will align with that of a snake slithering abruptly. I personally believe that we can measure maturity of our society by the discipline reflected on the roads. Awareness campaigns & strict penalties are not enough.We need to take exhaustive steps & a complete overhaul of working mechanism of Regional Transport Authorities (RTO) is must. Rectifying fundamental loopholes, introducing stricter regulations & ensuring there strong compliance will definitely make our transport system more efficient. I feel we must nudge our citizens towards a disciplined way of life.

– Written by
CA Hari,
He’s a Chartered Accountant,
Politician, Social Worker & Entrepreneur

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