Minister calls meeting of trade unions to thrash out consensus on revised driving test format in Kerala

For the past two weeks, driving school associations, including those affiliated with CITU and INTUC, have stalled the State’s driving licence issuing process by laying siege to examination centres and boycotting Motor Vehicles department officials 

Updated - May 15, 2024 08:24 am IST

Published - May 14, 2024 08:19 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

K.B. Ganesh Kumar

K.B. Ganesh Kumar

Transport Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar called a meeting of driving school associations on Wednesday to forge a consensus on implementing the revised driving test rules. 

Mr. Kumar appeared to have softened his stance after Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary M.V. Govindan and central secretariat member A.K. Balan suggested a path of common consent instead of arbitrarily implementing the new scheme. 

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan had slammed the government for catching driving students and instructors off guard by introducing the norms in an arbitrary fashion and without any ground reality check. 

For the past two weeks, driving school associations, including those affiliated with the CITU and the INTUC, have stalled the State’s driving licence issuing process by laying siege to examination centres and boycotting Motor Vehicles department officials. 

The backlog of candidates waiting to clear the tests has topped an estimated nine lakh. They included a large segment of youth who view a basic driving licence as a ticket to employment in the country and abroad.  

Most have taken driving lessons in private schools at considerable expense. The current administrative stasis has condemned them to wait inordinately for the permits. 

Protests erupted when the MVD allegedly revamped the driving test format without consultation.

The MVD introduced angular parking, parallel parking, zig-zag driving, and a gradient test. It also insisted that vehicle inspectors conduct the tests on different tracks and asked inspectors to restrict the number of candidates appearing for the tests to a maximum of 30 for detailed evaluation. 

The driving associations found the new rules stiflingly impractical and an existential threat to their livelihood. 

They also objected to the government’s insistence that schools should not train students on vehicles registered before 2009. Most driving schools operated like minor family concerns and could ill-afford to purchase and modify new cars for training. 

Moreover, the associations argued that the government should provide the facilities to train students, including the gradient test, before implementing the new reforms. The associations also objected to limiting the tests to 30 candidates each day. 

The associations also found the suggestion that students trained on geared vehicles would not become eligible to drive cars or vans with automatic transmissions. 

The trade unions alleged that the revised test format seemed designed to favour high-end driving schools run by major vehicle brands with modern training infrastructure, including high-end simulation facilities. 

A High Court single Bench had declined to stay the circular on the new regulations for driving tests. It observed that the reforms were in harmony with the Central Motor Rules and calibrated to introduce higher standards in driving tests in the interest of public safety. 

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