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Car crash? Catch driving instructor

- Central plan to link licences to schools

New Delhi, Aug. 5: Every time a driver is arrested for causing an accident, the driving school he trained at could earn a black mark.

This is part of a government plan to tighten the screws on substandard driving schools that flourish thanks to a lack of local monitoring and a corruption-ridden system of awarding driving licences.

The Union road transport and highways ministry proposes to get every state to build a database linking each driving licence to the driving school the licence-holder trained at.

Any accidents caused by poor driving skills can, therefore, be immediately connected to a particular driving school and driving instructor, provided the state police coordinate with the Union ministry.

“What we are going to do is not bring a drastic change in the functioning of the driving schools. Instead, we just want to start grading these driving schools based on objective parameters,” ministry joint secretary Nitin Gokarn said.

Later, the government can act against the driving schools based on their track record. First, by “prodding the state government to inspect the schools,” Gokarn said, and eventually by cancelling their licence.

Gokarn said the government would keep tabs on the driving schools in other ways too.

“We want to find out what the pass/failure rate of a driving school is. If a driving school boasts of a 100 per cent success rate, then there is probably a problem. Also, if the failure rate is too high, then too there is a problem,” he said.

Driving schools have to register themselves with local transport authorities but there is little monitoring thereafter. So little that Union road transport ministry officials could not say how many of these schools existed in the country beyond suggesting: “About 200 in each state on an average.”

The absence of monitoring allows many of these driving schools to flout most of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules that say:

A driver should complete at least 21 hours of training with a registered driving school before he can be awarded a driving licence;

Apart from training vehicles, driving schools should also have “adequate provision for conducting lecture and demonstration of models” of car components such as the engine gear box and the brake shoe;

The instructor should have at least five years’ experience of driving.

Gokarn said the crackdown on driving schools would be part of a larger effort to clean up the licensing system through measures against corrupt transport officials.

About 1 crore new driving licences are issued every year in India by some 1,000 licensing authorities spread across the cities and districts.