A few years ago, getting a driving licence (DL) or even a learner’s licence was a hellish exercise.
The difficulty in getting DLs and LLRs started right from the application stage — one would find it difficult to even get an application form that would normally be “sold” outside Regional Transport Offices (RTOs).
But since the full-fledged launch of the Sarathi software — which is part of the pan-India Pari Vahan software — in 2018, the system of issuing LLRs, DLs, renewal of DLs and other formalities has become easy, with all transactions, including the payment of fees, completely made online. The site can be browsed at https://sarathi.parivahan.gov.in/ .
Today, all one needs is a little bit of time and a smartphone or a computer to fill in forms and upload documents for an LLR — the first stage for getting a driving licence — through the Sarathi software, which is self-guided.
Once the online application is completed, a time slot will be allotted to visit the RTO concerned for fulfilling necessary formalities. For getting a permanent driving licence, the applicant has to just give the LLR number, and the database can then be accessed by the RTOs.
A senior official of the State Transport Authority said all RTOs in the city, numbering 24 (including Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur), are posted with a help desk personnel at the entrance (in some cases, Regional Transport Officer himself) to help direct different applicants to the respective officials.
When LLR applicants visit the RTO at the time allotted, an official will check the documents, carry out physical verification and make them take a written test of traffic regulations and signs, after which they will be sent to take a photo for issuance of the temporary driving licence. While RTO officials claim the process of issuing licences has been simplified, a section of residents believe going through driving schools guarantees LLRs/DLs.
But a senior official of the State Transport Authority denied that going through driving schools would help get LLRs or driving licences easily. He said since the launch of the Sarathi software, the possibility of showing “discretion” to applicants routed through driving schools had become a thing of the past. The official faulted a majority of the people for not being aware of the fact that LLRs and DLs are being issued through the online system. He said only 20-30% applicants were aware of the online system, as a large number of people still visited RTOs and had to be explained the procedures for filling in applications. He rued that despite making the online process easier and simpler, most applicants sought the help of driving schools.
Abilash Surendran, a resident of Pammal, got his twin driving licences for four and two-wheelers without much sweat, after he filed the application for his learner’s licence and driving licence through the Sarathi software.
CCTV cameras installed
The State Transport Authority official said a series of technological developments were happening at RTOs across the State. He said closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed at all RTOs. Awareness posters to help applicants fill in applications through the Sarathi software have been put up and verification of driving skills by Motor Vehicle Inspectors have been made stricter, unlike random verification followed until a few years ago, the official added.
The official said there was a plan to install CCTV cameras on the testing track in RTO North West soon. Only Anna Nagar has a full-fledged testing track in the city, while other RTOs use arterial roads for carrying out driving tests.
For issuing driving licence for heavy vehicles, tests are carried out at the two testing tracks at the Institute of Road Transport in Guimmidipoondi (North) and Taramani (South).
The official also said earlier integration of Sarathi software with the main server was an issue, but now all local servers had been linked to the main server, resulting in fewer instances of crashing and disabling operations.