AN investigation by a team of officials from the office of the Lokayukta into the functioning of motor driving schools in Tiswadi taluka has found serious defects in their operations. Lokayukta P K Mishra has issued a notice to transport department asking for a response to the findings. It is not that there are deficiencies in the operations of the motor driving schools in Tiswadi alone, but since no checks have been carried out the deficiencies of motor driving schools across the state have gone undetected. There are over 150 motor driving schools in the state. The rules say they must have a classroom with a black board, a minimum of one vehicle to teach driving with, and the school owner should have financial resources for maintenance. The officials of the transport department apparently do not do periodic inspection of these schools after giving them permission to operate. Had the transport department been monitoring them, their defects would have been rectified. The motor driving schools are normally checked again by the transport department officials when their owners seek renewal of the licence to operate the business, which is once in five years. There are motor driving schools with several years of existence that too have been found to be lacking in several aspects. So obviously even during or after the renewal of licence the transport department officials have failed to enforce the rules. That the inspection of the motor driving schools was carried out by Lokayukta officials tells the story of the indifference of the transport department in itself.
The owners of the driving schools show that they have the required facilities when they apply for permission to operate. However, most of them do not adhere to the rules and do not provide the learners those facilities after they get the approval. Hardly a few motor driving schools give theoretical classes to teach the learners the basics about vehicles and the rules they have to follow. They lay stress on giving practical training from day one to a person that comes to them. Though it is mandatory that the instructor teaching the learner driver should have a valid driving licence, which is at least five years old, there are cases in which even those with a new licence are hired to teach the learners.
There are no special areas or lanes earmarked by the transport department for motor driving schools. Most of the instructors take their students on main roads including highways. It is not uncommon to see learners panicking on seeing heavy traffic and applying the brake abruptly to stop the vehicle, causing inconvenience to other motorists. The instructors never teach the learners the basic principles of road discipline. The stress of the instructor is on helping the learner pick up the basics of driving in actual practice within a certain time period. The motor driving schools also ensure that their ‘students’ clear the driving tests without hassles and get permanent licence. It is rarely that a student from a driving school fails the driving test. It was envisaged by the authorities that motor driving schools were duty bound to produce quality drivers for which quality training to the learners is absolutely necessary. But given the fact that most of them do not have adequate facilities as laid down under the rules the quality of the end products (new drivers) remains suspect. No wonder, the number of wild drivers has only been increasing on Goa roads, causing accidents and human fatalities.
A robust system must be put in place to check the ability of anyone seeking a driving licence. Driving tests should be carried out on virtual driving machines or simulators. The state government has a proposal to acquire such machines; the proposal should be implemented at the earliest to eliminate collusion between driving school owners and licence issuing officials. Over the years use of driving simulators for training drivers has become more and more common across the world and Goa too should have them. Driving simulators have proven to be excellent practical and effective educational tools to impart safe driving training techniques for all drivers. Their use would go a long way in producing quality drivers in the state. Use of these devices, coupled with practical on-road teaching, would help learners to acquire the necessary skills to drive a vehicle and clear driving tests on merit. As poorly trained drivers pose risks to human life the transport department has a responsibility to society to eliminate the scope of faulty driving instruction.