Licence to drive will soon be hard to come by. A comprehensive online test, followed by a practical exam and a minimum score will all be a must for both commercial and private drivers to get behind the wheel.
Majority of road accidents in India — which has the highest rate of such mishaps in the world — are result of bad driving.
In its report submitted last week, a road transport ministry committee, led by Andhra transport commissioner Hiralal Samaria, has suggested a raft of stringent conditions for issuing as well as renewing licences.Applicants will sit an online objective-type test. The questions will examine the driver's knowledge of road rules and assess the hazard perception —overtaking, speed and response to various road situations — as well.
Driving skills will be tested on specially designed tracks fitted with sensors. Karnataka is the only state using these tracks, as of now.
A minimum score — yet to be decided — would be required to qualify for a licence.
The test is modelled after the one conducted in the UK. “We plan to frame new norms for issuing and renewing licences,” said Nitin R Gokarn, joint secretary (transport) in the ministry. “They will be national standards that will have to be followed by all.”
According to the latest ministry data, in 2010, there were 4.9 lakh road accidents and 1.34 lakh deaths. Drivers’ fault accounted for 3.8 lakh accidents and more than 1 lakh deaths.
Barring a few states, including Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh that conduct an online test, most states do not have a full-proof system in place.
Ministry officials admit that making states adhere to national norms will be difficult. “Bribing transport officials or taking help of touts is rampant in a majority of states. In many states, you don’t even have to appear for a test to get a learner's licence,” said a ministry official.