Persons with disabilities find it hard to get vehicles endorsed by RTO

As yet another International Day of People with Disability goes by, persons with disability in the city still struggle to get vehicles endorsed by the RTO.

S. Thomas, an auditor, is one of the nearly 60 people persons with disability who drives in the city and has been facing this issue for years. He and many others like him have had to depend on automobile mechanics to modify the vehicles as enough avenues are not available for them to get their vehicles modified in an officially sanctioned way.

A RTO officer said the State government has identified three engineering outlets for vehicle modification including one in Chennai in April last year. “If persons with disability get their vehicles modified in these centres, they will get endorsed. They should not get the vehicles fabricated at a local mechanic shop as they may change the basic features of the vehicle,” said the official.

“Earlier, the automobile companies brought out modified vehicles according to the requirement of the disabled. They also used to arrange for the endorsement of vehicles by RTOs under invalid carriage category,” said Mr. Thomas, a polio affected person.

Since some persons started misusing this facility, which comes with a lifetime road tax exemption, the companies withdrew modified models for the physically challenged. After this many started approaching local mechanics to get their vehicles altered.

“But the RTOs refuse to endorse the vehicles. They said the mechanics were not qualified enough as per the specifications of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. I have to either depend on drivers or attempt to drive the modified car myself,” said Mr. Thomas.

Members of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Handicapped Association allege that the State government refuses to give endorsement citing lack of driving control for physically challenged. “There is no proper specification on the level of physical disability for getting licence and endorsement,” said P.Simmachandran, general secretary.

If the modified vehicle is driven without endorsement it will be seized. “Earlier the vehicle fabrication was done only in Automobile Research Association of India in Pune. But now they can do it in these centres,” said the official.

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