An alarming 50 per cent of the 6,000 highway drivers tested suffer from vision defect, a big cause of concern in a country that accounts for about 11 per cent of total road mishaps globally, a top official has said. The government is trying to address the neglect of health by drivers, especially commercial operators, on highways, Road Transport and Highways Secretary Yudhvir Singh Malik has said. “NHAI organised at its toll plazas a three-day eye testing camp. 6,000 drivers registered for that. 3,000 of them were distributed spectacles,” he has said. “And you will be shocked to know that a 1,000 of them had a number of two plus and were driving without spectacles… without glasses,” Malik said at ‘Safe Road Safe Life’ event organised here yesterday. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is facilitating health check-up camps and every camp is keeping glasses with power 1.75 to 2.5 for immediate distribution. Besides, Malik said, it is only in India that a person, till a few years ago, could acquire driving licences without appearing before the authority and hold multiple licences.
In contrast, in countries like the UK, it is a rigorous process and people celebrate getting a licence like when they graduate, he added. Driver training institutes, the secretary said, will have to play a major role in terms of building up the driving capacity, and the new Road Safety Bill will have a provision that if one has a training certificate from one of the accredited driving schools, one will not be required to appear before a driving licensing authority. Malik attributed accidents in the case of long-haul commercial driving to fatigue and sickness. “We have identified along national highways 183 sites where we are immediately taking up development of wayside amenities, of which 15-20 are proposed to be only for truckers,” he added.
On driving concerns, Malik said people especially in Delhi excelled in not following traffic rules and expressed hope that the new Road Safety Bill will get Parliament nod soon. The Bill proposes hefty penalty for violation of traffic rules. “We have five lakh accidents, 1.5 lakh deaths… Any country which constitutes about 10-11 per cent of the world fatalities is the biggest concern at the international level. It is really an area which needs to engage the attention of all the stakeholders,” Malik added.