Govt may dilute edu rule for commercial vehicles drivers
The government proposes to dilute the norms for issuing licences for all commercial vehicles, including trucks, buses, trailers and taxis, by doing away with the “minimum educational qualification” norm. At present, all applicants need to have minimum qualification of having cleared class-VIII.
The road transport ministry issued a draft notification last week to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules proposing that those who pass the objective & practical driving test and can read one Indian language are eligible to get such licences.
Road crashes involving heavy commercial vehicles claimed the lives of nearly 48,000 people in 2014.
The draft notification also proposes major leeway for owners of long-haul trucks, trailers and buses, which are now bound to deploy two drivers in each such vehicle to ensure that they are not overworked. The draft rules have left it to the discretion of the owners.
Sources said the influential truckers and transporters’ lobby had been pushing these demands and they had attributed the “huge shortage” of drivers to the minimum educational qualification norm. Ministry officials said the changes have been proposed considering the “ground realities” that applicants in many cases submit forged certificates to get licence. “Soon we will make automated driving licence test mandatory for new applicants and for those renewing their licence,” said the official.
However, any argument for diluting the norms on education and deployment of two divers for vehicles with national permit has left road safety experts shocked. “The government has succumbed to the pressure of transporters’ lobby. Doing away with minimum qualification contradicts its commitment to bring a global standard road safety law. The subjective provision of the two-driver norm will mean drivers will be exploited. First of all, the truckers must pay proper wage to drivers to get more drivers. If there is shortage of drivers, then why truck sales are going up?” asked SP Singh of IFTRT, a Delhi-based think tank on transport issues.
Road safety expert Rohit Baluja said in an era when more emphasis is laid on education, the government should have raised the qualification norms for drivers for commercial operations. “Waiving off the literacy need is a regressive change,” he added.
Recently, transport minister Nitin Gadkari had made a committed to the world road safety summit to strengthen the laws and norms to cut road deaths by 50% by 2020.