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In what can be termed as good news for drivers and riders in India, the government is planning to introduce universal driving license system across the country. The move aims at standardizing format, fonts, and layouts of driving licenses in all states of the country, just like passports or PAN cards. Following the current pattern, these universal smart card driving licenses too will be issued by Regional Transport Offices (RTO). Once the system is put into effect, it will become difficult for crooks and criminals to duplicate this important identity document. At present, driving licenses issued by various state RTOs are in different formats. This makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies such as traffic police officials and motor vehicle departments to verify them during routine checks.
At present, the country is facing a major problem of identity theft due to driving license duplication as nationwide driver license database is not yet functional. To curb this trend, the government also plans to make Aadhar-linking for driving licenses compulsory. This government plan for smart driving licenses was revealed by Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in a written reply to Rajya Sabha – the upper house of the Indian parliament.
In other news, the Indian Government has recently approved the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill that will now have to be passed by Rajya Sabha. This bill aims at steep increase in fines for traffic offences in order to discourage motorists from breaking laws. While we appreciate this move of the government, everyone remembers the fate of this bill when it tabled in Parliament in 2017. It remains to be seen if it’s successful this time around.
If the government is indeed serious about traffic offenses, we also have a few suggestions to make. The government should implement a more rigorous testing mechanism before driving licenses are granted. At present, the tests designed for licenses are not very stringent and many under-trained drivers and riders use devious tactics to get around the current provisions. Such riders and drivers are a threat to other road users and this is a big reason for Indian roads being so unsafe. Along with increasing fines for traffic offences, a more stringent testing mechanism for driving license applicants will ensure that only good drivers and riders will have access to the privilege of driving. Smart licenses are a small but welcome step but a lot more needs to be done to make Indian roads lose their notorious distinction of being unsafe.