After the alleged rape of a 27-year-old professional by a private taxi driver in Delhi, commuter activists in the city have demanded faster installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) in black-and-yellow taxis, cool-cabs and autorickshaws.
Activists also have insisted that drivers’ personal records be verified annually and police verification be carried out at least once every three years, as calls to use technology to safeguard passenger safety get louder.
“The government is aware of the available technology through which passenger safety can be ensured. Why are we waiting for such incidents to occur? Why should commuters pay such a heavy price? The government must take preventive measures,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Some commuter activists have also asked transport unions to get psychological profiling of the drivers done. This will test the driver’s physical and psychological fitness and if it is suitable for transporting passengers.
“The RTO cannot conduct psychological profiling for each driver, but the unions should undertake this exercise and update the RTO about the driver’s status. Similarly, police verification should be made compulsory at least once every three years,” said activist Sunil Mone.
Activists have also suggested an improved interface between public transport drivers and the regional transport office (RTO), where the drivers themselves can update their records annually.
“Since all drivers are not registered with the unions, there is a need for better interface between the RTO and the drivers, which can be done with the help of technology. Besides, the drivers and owners should be made to update their records annually,” added Deshpande.
Transport secretary Shailesh Sharma confirmed that while issuing permits, the authorities ensure that there is no cognisable offence registered against the applicant in the previous year. “But considering that passenger safety is at stake, we can consider making police verification compulsory once every year or once every three years for auto and taxi drivers,” he added.