TAMIL NADU

Only manufacturer can modify vehicles for disabled

CHENNAI Dec. 25. The Motor Vehicles Act allows for modification of vehicles for use by the disabled. But, only the manufacturer is authorised to make changes to the steering wheel, engine or brakes, and add extra wheels or hand-operated brakes to two wheelers. A medical certificate from an orthopaedist is necessary.

The Regional Transport Officers are required to check the modifications before issuing licence. While mobility is a constitutional right, hiring or renting a modified vehicle to another disabled person is punishable. Tampering with the capacity of the existing engine is also punishable, but vehicles below 25 cc do not come under the purview of the Act.

Sidecars, permitted under Chapter 7 (Design Rule), are registered as an attachment and cannot be exchanged. The RTO must check for roadworthiness of the vehicle before issuing the licence.

Licences issued to the disabled will be renewed without a driving test if a medical fitness certificate is provided, but the roadworthiness of the vehicle should be tested.

A certificate from an orthopaedist is necessary to obtain a non-transport driving vehicle licence. It will carry the registration number of the vehicle.

According to the Act, a person should be of sound mental health, be able to adjust the rear-view mirror and understand road signs, but need not be able to read road signs, say Transport department officials. A licensee must answer a 10-mark test which would include five questions on picture identification. Though the other five require education, lack of it is no deterrent, as the minimum pass percentage is 50.

Government departments and companies, however, insist on a minimum qualification for heavy vehicle drivers, the officials say.

Sources say though there are three universal types of signage — informational, instructional and cautionary — implementation is never proper.

In private, some transport department officials and officials who advise on road laying, agree that traffic management has taken a beating because of poor implementation of road rules. Lack of enforcement of the rules of the Act has had an adverse effect on both the roads and road-users, they agree.