Licensed to kill

No, I’m not talking about James Bond. I’m talking about the kind of drivers we have for buses, tankers and trucks here in Chennai. With five people run over in the last few days. But that’s only the tip of the ice berg. For in the last year, the number of people killed by tankers being driven rashly runs probably into hundreds. Why is this happening?

Well, I was at the RTO (where one applies for a driving license, does the test etc) for renewal of my license recently. And was horrified to see the crowds waiting there. These people were there with touts who were helping them get a license. They were uneducated, and were not the type that you would employ to look after your garden, leave alone be employed by your company as a driver. I’m not for a moment wanting to make a class or value judgement of these men, but pointing out that they did not seem to be intelligent enough to trust a vehicle weighing ten tons on the road to. Or a bus with the lives of 35 or more passengers dependant on them. Or worse, the pedestrians or two wheelers using the same road.

They were being given licenses with the most cursory of driving tests, and certainly without testing their knowledge of the rules of the road. The way the traffic moves in Chennai, its pretty clear very few, if any, really know what the rules of the road are. Especially the traffic police who do nothing about enforcing even the most basic rules. Like a bus standing on the left turn lane on Poonamallee High Road (one of the arterial main roads in the city) at a very crowded traffic light, and when the light turned green, turning right across ALL traffic (going straight down the road, as well as in the right turn lane). The police? They just watched with studied disinterest.

This combination makes for the mayhem on our roads. Unless the police wake up to the fact that unless a paradigm shift takes place in how they process licenses, how well they test for knowledge of the rules of the road, and how well they ensure discipline on the road, the fatalities will continue. I think that an IQ test for those applying for a license must also be mandatory, along with a six monthly test for the traffic rules for drivers of heavy vehicles. Unless we instill a zero tolerance standard, the deaths on our roads will continue.

2 Comments so far

  1. Anu (unregistered) on April 15th, 2006 @ 8:05 am

    Wow, you can manage to figure out how intelligent people are just by looking at them? Why bother with all those IQ tests, they can just hire you.

  2. Sankar (unregistered) on April 17th, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

    I had a post almost on the same lines on my blog about three weeks back.
    Looks like I am not the only one who feels that bus drivers have to get more disclipned.

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