Licence to act responsibly
WITH thousands of youth attaining the age to cast their votes in the ensuing state assembly election there is bound to be subsequent increase in the number of people seeking to possess driving licence. As per the existing norms, eligibility for obtaining a learner’s licence for a private motor vehicle of 50 CC engine without any gear, is 16 years, if the applicant’s parents or guardians give their consent, whereas the minimum age to apply for a permanent driving licence is 18 years. Under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, no person can drive a motor vehicle in any public place unless he/she holds a valid driving licence, authorising him/her to drive a vehicle of that particular category. The same Act states that a learner's licence is essential for obtaining a permanent licence. Contrary to such rules and reports about the transport department facing shortage of man-power, procedures for acquiring driving licence seem to be a relatively convenient process in Manipur, simply based on the fact that there are many who do not own even a two-wheeler but already possessing the driving licence, thus raising posers on whether or not the licence issuing officials actually conform to the guidelines for putting the licence seekers to the mandatory driving test. Under the existing rules, obtaining a learner's licence consist of applying in the prescribed format to the local transport office, along with photographs, proof of age and residence, declaration of medical fitness and the required fee.
As the said rules also entail that the applicant must be conversant about vehicle systems, traffic regulations and put through a driving test, for which one needs to bring a vehicle, the licence issuing officials are most unlikely to follow the guidelines, as possessing licence for operating motor vehicles has technically been turned into a document for authenticating one’s identity as is evident from numerous non-locals making it a point to flash the driving licence whenever they are asked to verify proof of residency. In addition to the need for proper verification of the applicants, the licence issuing officials have to shoulder the responsibility of not only testing the driving skills of the youngsters but also make them aware that rash and reckless driving is one of the causes of motor accidents. According to reports, India accounts for the loss of 11 per cent lives in road accidents, with most of the incidents occurring in cities. In Manipur’s context, majority of the victims of road mishaps are said to be youth from well-educated and financially well off families. As the young adults don’t seem to think about what can happen when they are drinking and driving, the task of the transport department officials should not end with issuing licences but also need to shoulder the responsibility of driving home the point to the youth that the driving licence is a certification of responsibility.