International road safety expert and member of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (Government of India) – Dr. Kamal Soi, in his letter to the Chief Minister of Punjab, expressed deep concern over the process of issuing driving licenses in Punjab and appealed to him to take appropriate steps in this matter.
Today in a press conference in Chandigarh, Dr. Soi said that he wrote this letter on October 13, 2023, which was sent by the Honorable Chief Minister of Punjab State to the Secretary Transport, Punjab on the same day for appropriate action but till date no action has been taken by the Transport Department on it. Dr Soi said that the present AAP government of Punjab state is not serious enough to save the lives of the people. The government appears to be in collusion with M/s Smart Chip which is running the Automated Driving Test Track (ADTT) in Punjab since 2016.
While sharing some figures during the press conference, Dr. Soi said that Punjab is the third most dangerous state in the country in terms of road accidents and Ludhiana is at number one position. More than 7 lakh licenses are being issued every year on the aging Automated Driving Test Track (ADTT) in the state of Punjab. He informed that obsolete and out of date driving skill testing solutions are being used by the Punjab Transport Department for taking the driving test at 32 Automated Driving Test Tracks which is resulting in giving driving licenses to incompetent, unskilled and ineligible drivers who are also in Punjab. They are becoming a major cause of road accidents in India. While 94.15% of applicants are being granted driving licenses in Punjab today, the national average of candidates qualifying the “Driving Skill Test” is only between 60 to 65%, resulting in increasing number of road accidents, deaths and serious injuries.
He said that driver error is the single most important factor in 84 percent of deaths (80.3 percent) and 83.9 percent of serious injuries in road accidents in the country during 2022. Within the driver error category, speeding over the legal speed was responsible for the highest number of accidents (66.5 percent) and accidental deaths (61.0 percent).
In a letter to the Chief Minister, Dr Soi has highlighted that the 32 ADTT centers where the driving license tests are being conducted in the state fail to meet the criteria specified in Rule 15 of the CMVR. Here no foolproof authentication is done to cross-check the identity of the candidate applying for issue of driving license and the actual driving test candidate who takes the test. The present process is not a real time solution as it involves human intervention. There is no live MIS of violations by the test giver to complete the test and only a few limited test parameters: such as curb hits, time taken in the test, etc. are taken into account. For accurate assessment of driving skills, the system should have comprehensive test parameters such as standard direction, number of stops, number of reverse/forward movements, roll-back etc.
In light of this, Dr. Soi also gave various suggestions related to the implementation of new technology solutions, mainly the following:
- Use of Artificial Intelligence to monitor driver behavior on real time basis, such as driver facial recognition, seat belt detection, use of rear view mirror and CMVR for driving skills testing. Fulfilling all the criteria mentioned in rule15 of CMVR for driving skills testing.
- Cross checking the applicant with the candidates who are actually giving the driving test using “in-car cameras” and face recognition system to ensure that no dummy candidate can give the driving test.
- Give a driving test evaluation report with a graphical representation of the driving path adopted by the candidate for all the tracks in the form of a complete single diagram while giving the driving skill test.
- A driving test evaluation report of the candidate should be provided containing a graphic representation of the route taken by the candidate on all driving tracks.
- Generate a detailed MIS test track report of the candidate’s driving test with graphic representation of actual speed of the vehicle on the test track, actual time taken for the test, mention of violations during the test and the number of vehicles driven by the candidate during the test. All movements like forward/reverse/stopping etc. should be mentioned.
- Real-time, web-based system with advanced security features like data encryption and back-up management to avoid data tampering.
- Test-wise duly stamped video should also be prepared along with the applicant’s ID for future records so that there is no manipulation in the test results.
- Simultaneous driving test on different tracks to determine the ability of the driver. And there should be facility for testing even at night.
Dr Soi said that there is a need to replace the current technology being used with the latest solutions.