Updated: February 9, 2021 8:48:39 am
There will soon be no need to navigate through the maze of bureauracy and agents at the local road transport authority office, perform a driving test before an official and also, maybe, grease a few palms, in order to obtain a driver’s license in India.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways under Nitin Gadkari has come out with proposed rules that will enable the setting up of Accredited Driver Training Centres across the country. Successful, time-bound completion of training in these centres will be enough to secure a license from the state transport authorities.
The government, through a draft notification issued last week, has sought to amend the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, to enable existence of these training centres in a new avatar as well as introduce “techniques of fuel-efficient driving” in the training module for all aspiring drivers.
The government has invited comments/objections, if any, from the public for the next 30 days on the draft notification. After that the final version will be notified and be part of the official rules.
What is the update to Central Motor Vehicle Rules?
Rule 14 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules prescribes what an application for a driver’s license shall accompany. This includes things like necessary documents, a learner’s license, and even a certificate from an authorized driving training school. But this is not enough to secure an actual license as the rule now is that the candidate must then perform a driving test in the presence of a designated official of the authority. Adding to that list now is “Certificate from Accredited Driver Training Center in Form 5B as per rule 31E, if any.”
Now, to make this certificate enough to secure a license without performing a test at the licensing authority’s office, the proposed rules insert certain changes.
Rule 15 of the CMVR mandates driving test as a prerequisite to evaluate the competence of an aspiring driver, or a candidate for a license. In the draft notification, the government now seeks to include that anyone who holds a certificate from an Accredited Driver Training Centre, shall be exempted from performing a driving test. “Provided that the holder of certificate in Form 5B shall be exempted from requirement of driving test,” it says.
In the rules in CMVR pertaining to what skills and knowledge a candidate for driver’s license must poses before she presents herself before the authority, the new rules also seek to insert: “Knowledge and understanding of fuel efficient driving technique.”
This is in addition to existing prerequisites, like knowledge of traffic signals, duties of a driver in an accident etc.
Accredited Driver Training Centres
Anyone can set up these training centres providing they fulfil the accreditation criteria laid down by the Centre, which includes an accreditation fee of Rs 50,000. The State Transport Authority or designated official of authorised agency notified by the Central Government, will process the applications for accreditation to the driver training centres and grant a license to run such centre for five years.
To get a license, a candidate will have to go through 29 hours of training in four weeks, in which 21 hours are practical training including four hours in simulator, virtually driving through rain, fog, night etc.
For medium to heavy vehicles, the training is for 29 hours spread over 38 weeks in which 17 hours are in theory classes and 21 hours are in practical including three hours on a simulator.
Theories including everything related to driving including road rage, etiquettes of good driving habits and the like. Practical includes on track as well as on road driving sessions.
The centres will also offer refresher and remedial courses and also user-specific courses.
Features of the training centre
For this, the training centres should have infrastructure of at least 2 acre in plains or 1 acre in hilly districts, besides adequate parking area for the vehicles meant to be used for training.
They should have simulators for both light motor vehicle driving as well as commercial, heavy motor vehicle driving.
They should also have two class-rooms with teaching aids like computers and Multimedia Projector for holding theory classes/lessons on traffic rules, driving procedures, vehicle mechanism, public relations and first aid. Online tests and evaluation are a must.
There has to be a driving track to provide practice to the trainees for maneuvering, parking, reverse driving, driving on slopes.
The centres should also have biometric attendance systems—presumably so that no candidate can fudge attendance in training sessions.
The centres are required to employ qualified instructors, have the facility for e-payment, real time evaluation, online evaluation process and adequate staff resources in each category (Teaching staff, IT personnel, cleaning staff etc. The criteria for instructors is a minimum of 12th pass, at least five years of driving experience and a course in motor mechanics or any other higher qualification in mechanical engineering.
The centres will be subject to a yearly audit by authorities and also surprise audits. They will have to maintain an electronic record of everything to show that the activities are as per the norms. The first audit happens in three months after the centre is declared fit to operate. Accreditation can also be cancelled if the audit finds lapses, which have also been defined.
Why this change?
As per multiple estimates, India has a shortage of over 2 million drivers especially in the transport industry. Studies link this shortage with driver fatigue and errors in driving that cause road crashes and fatalities. According official data, around 84 per cent of road accidents take place due to faults of drivers.
“We want to open driving training centres particularly in the tribal area. The people who are educationally, socially and economically backward, that is agriculture, tribal and the 115 aspirational districts, where we need to start more driving training centres,” Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Highways minister has recently said.
Two years ago, the government also did away with any minimum educational criterion for applying for a commercial driving license citing that driving is about possessing a skill and not really about educational qualification.
The centre has been enabling or facilitating driver training for years. Under existing scheme by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Centre assists in setting up of Institutes of Driving Training and Research (IDTR) and Regional Driver Training Centres (RDTCs) and Driving Training Centres in the country.
The scheme also provides financial assistance of up to Rs 18.5 crore per IDTR and Rs 5 crore per RDTC. It also grants 50 per cent of the project cost or up to Rs 1 crore per Driving Training Centre. As of last year there were 29 ITDRs spread in all major states and five RDTCs, four in Maharashtra and one in Kolkata.
The Accredited Driver Training Centres will do away with the need to perform tests in front of state transport authorities in order to obtain a license. This is new.
The move also brings India on a par with other developed countries which have linked driver training with issuance of licenses.
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