Transport department may ban child lock in cabs

Transport department may ban child lock in cabs

RTO officials have proposed to the government to remove child lock systems after several incidents where passengers were trapped in the vehicles during assault were reported

A spate of sexual attacks on women in Uber and Ola cabs over the last few weeks and a public interest litigation in the Karnataka High Court have moved the Transport Department to mull over banning child lock systems in passenger vehicles plying for hire.

Officials from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) said they have proposed to the government to remove child lock systems after several incidents where passengers were trapped in the vehicles during assault were reported.

“When the driver activates the child lock system, a passenger will be helpless as she can’t open the doors or reach the button to deactivate the lock. Only someone from outside can open the doors. In case of an emergency too, the passenger will be trapped if the lock is on,” a senior official told DH.

Sources in the Transport Department noted that the proposal does not include banning the system from private vehicles.

“Besides Ola and Uber cabs, the focus is on all vehicles carrying passengers through contract with private companies. The proposal has come following a petition in the high court over the safety of women travelling in taxis. A decision will be taken soon,” a source said.

An RTO official said private vehicles will be allowed to have child lock, keeping in mind the safety of children travelling in the backseat while parents are driving.

The technical standing committee on Central Motor Vehicles Rules had previously suggested the measure and also asked vehicle manufacturers to ensure that commercially registered vehicles don’t have the lock and the existing lock systems be removed.

Bangalore Tourist Taxi Operators Association president Radhakrishna Holla, however, said authorities should have checked how many cases actually involved the use of child lock.

“There are thousands of commercial vehicles which carry children to school everyday. Such a system may be necessary while transporting old people too. They should speak to stakeholders before taking a decision,” he said.

Amrutesh, an advocate who filed the petition in the high court, said cab aggregators have failed to ensure passenger safety despite repeated incidents of sexual assaults. “Every time a woman passenger is raped or assaulted, we hear about the government promising stringent rules. They promised installation of GPS and SOS system in all taxis, but nothing happened,” he said.

He said it was sad that the government acts only after orders from a court. “We want the aggregator to be booked when a passenger is assaulted in the cab it provides. There is no way aggregators can escape responsibility when they can’t even ensure that the person driving the cab is the same as the person who registered with the company,” he said.

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