The first computerised driving track in Mallathalli, inaugurated in September 2010 with the purpose of streamlining issue of driving licences, seems to have failed in its objective.
Two years down the lane, middlemen and driving schools have brought the system back to square one and driving skills of applicants hardly get tested on the automated track.
An applicant for a four-wheeler driving licence has to face ‘acid tests’ on the automated track.
He or she has to drive on five types of tracks - including the track shaped ‘8’ and reverse driving on ‘S’ shaped track. The applicant also has to pass an aptitude test on traffic signals.
The tracks, lined with sensors, detect violations and repeated faults lead to a fail in the rest resulting in denial of the licence.
However, the test will not be all that tough if you are a candidate routed through a driving school. The ‘privileged’ applicant can have his or her trainer seated next, with secondary controls of clutch and brake. All that the applicant has to do is press the accelerator whenever instructed to do so.
Whenever the vehicle approaches sensor poles, the trainer does the troubleshooting by taking over the steering wheel. A solitary inspector monitors the entire track with at least four vehicles at any given point of time, and hardly anybody notices the ‘assistance.’
“I have seen candidates, who don’t even attend driving classes and possess least knowledge of traffic rules passing the test with the help of driving schools,” Giridhar G, a resident of Mallathalli said. He said the inspectors have an ‘understanding’ with the driving schools to get students for them.
Gangadhar Acharya, senior RTO inspector at Jnanabharathi, cited a legal hurdle for not being able to prevent driving school instructors from sitting beside the applicants during the test.
“According to Motor Vehicles Act, a person with learning licence should always be assisted by a person having the licence, sitting next to him.
Driving school trainers maintain that they are there just for the moral support and guiding. However, we ensure that the trainer sticks to his seat and does not take over the driving during the test,” he said.
Acharya said there was also a debate a few years ago, whether to allow driving school trainers to sit with licence applicants or not.
“Then came the question of probable damage that could be caused to public life with an inexperienced driver sitting alone in the car.
A few such cases went to the High Court also. As far as the automated track is concerned, there could be damage to costly equipment installed there due to bad driving. With these limitations, we cannot say no to trainers sitting next to applicants,” he said.
Rs 1.7-crore project
The track at Mallathalli has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1.7 crore in a venture jointly funded by the Union Information Technology Department and State government.
Transport officials say on an average 70 tests (including two-wheelers and four-wheelers) are being conducted on the track every day.
There are plans to set up a similar facility at Yelahanka and Parappana Agrahara transport divisions too.