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Tamil Nadu - Coimbatore Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

It is time to wield the stick

Absence of stringent provisions to prosecute those driving without licences has resulted in committing the offence frequently, writes V. S. Palaniappan.

Driving vehicles without a licence is on the rise and quite common in all age groups. This includes students of higher secondary schools and colleges. The pretext is that they never get a day off during the weekdays to visit the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to get licence.

When caught driving without licence, they are booked under section 3 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 for violations.

If the vehicle is a non-transport one like a car or two-wheeler, the violators go scot-free (after paying a pittance as penalty).

For bus, van, tourist taxi and lorry, the driver is booked and the reports are sent to the RTO concerned, which are then forwarded to the police station for initiating prosecution proceedings.

Even in this case the driver ends up paying only a paltry sum as fine.

The punishment is not stringent enough to deter them from committing the offence again. Only in the event of a mishap, the police register a case against the motorist concerned for negligence causing injury or death under the provisions of Indian Penal Code, which prescribes higher punishment. The Transport Department has turned proactive by reaching out to students at their institution to provide them with the learner's driving licence.

"It does not want to be proactive and wait for them to drive without a licence and then fine them", pointed out the K. Yogarajan, the Deputy Transport Commissioner, Coimbatore Circle. In the event of a mishap, if the driver/rider is not in possession of a valid driving licence, the comprehensive insurance cover will not be of any use. Insurance companies would turn down the claim on the grounds of having violated insurance conditions, he points out. Urging institutions to come forward to avail the opportunity, he requests them to approach the Transport Department to get licences for their students.

"As the prices of automobiles have come down, parents are keen to get their son or daughter a latest two-wheeler or a car but they fail to realise the need for a valid licence," he laments. He has also urged the heads of educational institutions to ensure that those coming to the school/college in their self-driven vehicles had licence.

After its efforts to sensitise the parents and institutions, the Transport Department has managed to issue licences to more than 1,300 students belonging to nine educational institutions (seven in Coimbatore and one each in Tirupur and Coimbatore).

Though the number of educational institutions and the student population in Coimbatore Circle (Coimbatore, Erode and The Nilgiris districts), the response from the educational institutions continues to be lukewarm. Before issuing the licence the RTO will conduct theory sessions on road safety and road rules. The applicants will also go through an aptitude test before getting the learner's licence. By availing this opportunity, students need not waste their precious working days at the RTOs for getting a learner's licence. Since, the issue of pucca driving licence involves videographing at the RTO, the transport department will make arrangements for them to come to their office in batches and get the permanent licence issued without any waste of time, on completion of thirty days of holding a learner's licence.

"We are hopeful that educational institutions would grab this opportunity when the next academic year begins", says Mr.Yogarajan. The police action against road-rule violations is expected to exert pressure on the motorists.

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