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Driving for ages? Automated licence tests may puncture your confidence

NEW DELHI: Even experienced drivers applying for renewal of their licences are facing difficulties at the transport department’s automated test centres. Apart from the dreaded ‘reverse S’, the reverse parallel parking gives the most grief to applicants during automated tests. The other tests are ‘forward 8 driving’, overtaking, halting at traffic junction, ending with up-gradient climb and stopping the vehicle without it rolling back and then moving forward.

There is no human intervention in the tests. They are fully computerised and the slightest deviation is caught by sensors. Failure to clear any of these tests within the stipulated time means the applicant has to reappear for the test, though not before a week.

“The reason most people fail the reverse S, reverse parallel parking and up-gradient tests,” the official continued, “is because they rarely encounter these driving conditions in real life.” And in case, that sounded illogical, he added, “The tests, however, are prescribed by the Central Motor Vehicle Rules.”

Delhi’s automated test tracks are set up and maintained by Maruti Suzuki India as part of its corporate social responsibility. Bathinda in Punjab and Pune in Maharashtra were the first to get such tracks in 2015, and while 28 such tracks now exist in Punjab, more cities in Maharashtra like Nashik are setting them up. “In fact, our test tracks are identical to the tracks in Pune. We visited that facility before building our tracks,” the official revealed.

Failed applicants have many grouses, primarily that the test conditions don’t exist outside of the RTOs. “How is anyone expected to pass this test at one go? We were only given a demo in a group before the test but what one needs is a proper tutorial,” said Chandan Singh at the Mayur Vihar RTO. “It is very difficult to reverse in the S formation and even parallel parking is tough because the space provided is very narrow. And if you veer close to the kerb, you fail the test.”

Singh added that applicants should be allowed a practice run before appearing for the final test because failing a test means not only appearing for a retest but also shelling out another Rs 300 as test fee.

An RTO official admitted, “You will find very few applicants who are confident of clearing the test at one go. In fact, it is common for applicants to leave without giving the test after watching others floundering.” Harsha Kumar, a Mayur Vihar phase-III resident, seemed to be confirming this when he said, “I learnt about these tests on YouTube but that was not enough to qualify the test. I will have to practice hard and come again next week.”

The Mayur Vihar track began operations from March 5, and while the pass percentage there was 84.8% till March 5, it has dipped to 57.4% since. While seven RTOs in Delhi, including some of the busiest like Janakpuri and Vasant Vihar, still conduct manual driving tests, by 2020, all city RTOs will move to automated test tracks.

tnn graph 22nd dec

Source: Economic Times