The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced their decision to modify the format of driving licenses that are issued across the country. In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari suggested that RTOs should issue a uniform format of driving licenses across the nation using a universal smart card driving license format.
Currently, some states like Maharashtra and Delhi offer smart card type driving licenses with chips, while other states like Uttar Pradesh use laminated cars without chips. The Ministry has prescribed a common standardised format and design for all driving licenses issued in every state across the nation. The new format proposes the placement of information, standardised fonts, etc.
The minister has stated in the past that around 30% of Indians drive with fake or bogus licenses. Additionally, police reports suggest that in just the region of Delhi NCR, cases of underage driving have jumped to 589% and in the first 15 days of January 2019, 61 unpermitted juvenile cases were registered and issued with challans. What is more worrisome is that the average age offenders are actually decreasing. In 2013, the average was 15-16 years of age, which has now come down to 13-14 years of age. However, the most worrying part of underage driving is highlighted by a report from Nissan India and road safety NGO SaveLIFE Foundation that shows that 96.4% of the parents were aware of their kids driving. While the judiciary has decided to take action against parents in such cases as well, the ministry’s move to this new format is expected to help curb this situation to some extent
The ministry through its flagship allocation names SARATHI which was developed by the National Informatics Centre or (NIC) has a countrywide database of all driving license holders. The statement from the ministry states that NIC’s database holds almost 15 crore driving license records in its central repository, a part of the National Repository.
The SARATHI application is claimed to have the ability to identify duplicate records in real time online and access information about challans and keeps a record of their violation history if any. This feature is said to enable the licensing authority to ensure that delinquent drivers do not get a duplicate driving licence.