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Centre proposes to dilute norms for getting commercial driving license

Centre has proposed doing away with the minimum educational qualification for public transport drivers.

At present, it is compulsory for drivers of all commercial vehicles, such as buses, trucks and taxis, to clear class VIII at the school level before applying for a driving license. The Centre has proposed diluting this requirement in the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill of 2016 which was introduced in Lok Sabha earlier this week.

In another major move, taxi drivers may no longer have to serve one year driving experience in a private vehicle before being eligible for a commercial vehicle license, provided that he has undergone a specialised training from any government accredited driving schools.

At present, driving a private vehicle for at least one year is a must before one can get a learner’s licence to drive a public transport vehicle.

As per the plan, the Central government will empower a body to certify schools to impart training to aspirant drivers across the country.

“Any person who has successfully completed a training module at such school or establishment covering a particular type of motor vehicle shall be eligible to obtain a driving license,” said a provision of the Bill. It added that the curriculum of the driving training course and the norms for regulation of such schools will be decided by the Central government.

“A one-year hiatus is a big incentive and unnecessarily delays the issuance of transport licenses. It is one of the many reasons behind shortage of drivers in the country,” said a senior road ministry official.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said last year that there is a shortage of 22 per cent drivers in the country.

The official said that a “structured training programme” will be formulated by the Centre, possibly with the help of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) so that faster issuance of transport licenses is possible.

The training programme will likely be for 2-3 months and may focus on core driving skills, latest technology exposure, vehicle maintenance, soft skills, discipline and health and hygiene of the drivers, the official said.

“It will involve four-five hours of driving every day and focus on improving quality of driving,” the official added.

According to the Bill, such accredited driving school will also provide “remedial driving training course” to applicants of all types of driving licenses who have failed their driving test more than three times. At present, after the applicant has failed the test of competence more than three times, he or she can re-apply only after two months of appearing for the test. Now, the applicant will also have to undergo this remedial training course compulsorily.

Some road experts criticised the move to dilute educational norms for transport drivers saying it compromises on road safety. “Road safety has been traded off for the greed of automakers and transport companies. The minimum education qualification ensures drivers have basic knowledge of traffic rules and basic civic sense,” said SP Singh, a senior fellow at the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT).


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