The Motor Vehicle Department’s driver counselling centre at Kakkanad, the only one in the State, plans to organise a reunion of its ‘students’ in July after having counselled 1,000 of them.
While most of them were drivers of tipper lorries and buses, drivers of smaller vehicles were directed to attend the counselling after they were involved in accidents. There were others who were caught driving drunk or using cell phone while driving. Twenty-five sessions were organised since 2010 when the centre was established following accidents skyrocketing in Central Kerala.
“It is noteworthy that none of the drivers who attended our classes has since been involved in an accident. I used to call them often and follow up on the course, so that they spread the message of safe driving to their peer group,” said Adarsh Kumar Nair, the Motor Vehicle Inspector who mooted the idea of establishing the centre and the one who coordinates the classes. Following the reunion, the MV Department aims to give mementos to each of the drivers.
He spoke of how most drivers had wrong notions of traffic rules and road ethics. “Instead of keeping to the left, one driver was in the habit of steering towards the oncoming vehicle so that the other driver does not come too close.
He blamed it on the habit of his asan (the driving tutor). “I asked him what would happen if the same asan had tutored the driver coming from the opposite side.”
Most drivers do not know that vehicles going on the main road and those that are climbing a steep road have the right of way. Thus, motorists from side roads and those coming down a steep road have to slow down and give way to the other two.
The rule is aimed at ensuring disciplined flow of traffic and to prevent accidents, he said.
Similarly, drivers do not slow down on seeing pedestrians crossing the road, unlike in most other countries where pedestrians are treated with respect and courtesy.
“Apart from lack of awareness, this has to do with the learning system involved in driving. One can master driving only through practice. Thus, drivers copy the mannerisms and errors of those who trained them,” Mr Nair said. One among the attendees at a counselling session was Suresh P.K., who is based at Angamaly.
“I have driven both lorries and buses during the past 22 years. Each driver thinks that he is the best driver. At the session, I came to know of so many new aspects that I never knew. Accidents will reduce if every driver attends the classes,” he said.
“I had the habit of speaking on the cell phone while driving. Now, I park the lorry and speak. Apart from teaching me to drive safely, the day-long class helped reduce my temper and this helps me to interact better with my family members. I also learnt the importance of proper signalling,” said Sojan Jose from Kalady, who drives a tipper lorry.
Mr. Nair spoke of how the meditation done at the counselling session has helped many drivers to have self-control and lessen their temper, help reduce accidents and improve their personal lives.