Easy Access, Deadly Consequences: The Dark Side Of J & K's License Issuance

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)

My Valentine boy, Monty, turned 18 this year, and as soon as he did, he went to the Parivahan website managed by the Ministry of Road transport and Highways to register for a driving license. To become a legal driver in this mountainous region, he needs to answer some multiple-choice questions to get a Learner's License, followed by a driving test overseen by officials from the Regional Transport Office.

Getting the Learner's License was a breeze for the teenager, as he easily answered most of the multiple-choice questions correctly, even though his responses were mostly guesses. Now, he focused on the road test, which was scheduled for a few months later. He appeared quite relaxed, as if he had been driving his whole life. As a responsible parent, I have never allowed my sons to drive my car without a license. The older one got his license two years ago.


Finally, the day arrived for my son's driving skills to be put to the ultimate test. If he passed, he would be legally allowed to drive, despite having only a few hours of practice. The brothers teamed up, with the older one giving him tips on how to maneuver through the“H” pattern in reverse gear to pass the test. As he headed to the track, an RTO official checked his documents, although not his ID. Monty navigated the track with ease. This track was a modified, easier version of its previous, more challenging“H” design.

Monty emerged from the track with a big smile. Passing the test meant he was now a qualified driver, legally permitted to drive any Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) across India. However, only he knows that his actual driving skills are still lacking and that his license would serve as his defense if he encountered any trouble while driving in the future.
About a week later, he received a flurry of messages from the Parivahan Department, with the final one congratulating him on becoming a legal driver. The SMS informed him that he could download his license on the DigiLocker and mParivahan mobile apps from RTO Kashmir.

And that's all it takes. To become a legal driver in Jammu and Kashmir, you only need to pass two straightforward tests: a multiple-choice exam to get your Learner's License and a brief track test where your reverse gear skills are evaluated for just a minute or two.

Read Also ARTO Suspends 21 Driving Licenses For Various Violations Under MVA In North Kashmir's Bandipora MVD Kashmir Suspends 35 Driving Licenses

Some years back, I conducted an interview with a Deputy Commissioner for this publication, during which he openly acknowledged,“Here, licenses are issued to kill,” alluding to the lax process of license issuance. He also highlighted widespread corruption within the system, resulting in inexperienced drivers being unleashed onto the roads, which he described as“potential hazards.”

Driving is an etiquette, a mindset, and a collection of traits that make you a responsible person on the road. Skipping comprehensive training before being declared a qualified driver, as seen in countries like those in Europe, America, or even the Middle East, is negligent. This is why Indian licenses are not highly regarded abroad, and anyone wishing to drive in foreign countries must undergo the same rigorous tests to become a responsible driver.

In England for example, a typical driving test consists of both practical and theoretical components. During the practical test, the candidate is required to demonstrate their driving skills under the supervision of a certified examiner. This includes various maneuvers such as parallel parking, three-point turns, and emergency stops, as well as driving on different types of roads including urban, rural, and dual carriageways. The examiner assesses the candidate's ability to control the vehicle safely, follow traffic signs and signals, and interact with other road users.

In addition to the practical test, there is also a theory test which assesses the candidate's knowledge of the Highway Code, road signs, and general driving theory. This test typically includes multiple-choice questions and a hazard perception test where candidates must identify potential hazards in video clips of driving scenarios.

Obtaining a driving license in Dubai often involves a more stringent process. Aspiring drivers must undergo comprehensive training from approved driving schools before they are eligible to take the driving test. The training typically includes classroom sessions covering traffic rules, road signs, and driving theory, as well as practical driving lessons with certified instructors.

Once the training is complete, candidates must pass a series of tests administered by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). This includes a theory test to assess their knowledge of traffic regulations and a practical driving test to demonstrate their driving skills. The practical test in Dubai is known for its rigor, with examiners closely evaluating the candidate's ability to navigate through challenging traffic conditions, execute precise maneuvers, and adhere to strict safety standards.

Furthermore, Dubai has implemented advanced technology such as smart testing systems and driving simulators to ensure the accuracy and fairness of the testing process. As a result, obtaining a driving license in Dubai is considered a significant achievement and a dream come true for many residents, reflecting the high standards of road safety and proficiency expected of drivers in the region.

It's ironic that although Indian traffic laws list every offense with hefty penalties for violations, genuine traffic awareness isn't adequately cultivated either by driving schools or by the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs).

We often see common driving violations, like overtaking from the wrong lane, unnecessary horn honking, using mobile phones while driving, risky overtaking, speeding, ignoring pedestrians' right of way, not wearing seatbelts, running red lights, driving under the influence, and tailgating.

This leads to tragic consequences on Indian roads. Despite having only 1 percent of the world's vehicles, India contributes to 11 percent of global road accident deaths, according to a 2021 report from the World Bank. This makes India the country with the highest road accident death rate worldwide. Annually, the country experiences around 450,000 road crashes, resulting in 150,000 fatalities. Over the past decade, 1.3 million people lost their lives, and another 5 million were injured on Indian roads, as stated in the report.
According to a recent report released by the traffic police in Jammu and Kashmir, the alarming statistics paint a grim picture of road safety in the region. In the span of a year, a staggering total of 6,298 accidents were recorded, resulting in the loss of 893 lives. Tragically, these accidents also left 8,469 individuals injured, many of whom continue to grapple with the physical and emotional aftermath.

India is reportedly overhauling its driving license issuance process with new regulations effective June 1, this year. Authorized private driving centers will now conduct tests instead of government RTOs. Trainers must meet strict criteria, and schools must provide suitable testing facilities. Training durations are standardized: 29 hours for light vehicles and 38 hours for heavy vehicles. These changes aim to improve accessibility, efficiency, and road safety.

the continued use of the current format for issuing driving licenses in Jammu and Kashmir ensures that the process remains lackadaisical and riddled with inefficiencies. As the RTO Kashmir has confirmed, driving tests will not be skipped, and no private entities have been authorized to conduct these tests.
This means the traditional, government-run RTO system-characterized by minimal scrutiny and inadequate evaluation-will persist, and individuals like Monty will continue to obtain licenses through this process filled with loopholes, unleashing half-baked drivers onto the roads.

  • Views expressed in the article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer


Kashmir Observer

Legal Disclaimer:
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.