In a novel initiative, the Bihar government of India, headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar, has decided to issue driving licences only to literate people.
Authorities say the move will check road accidents in Bihar which have increased alarmingly in the past few months.
Under the initiative, those wanting a driving licence will not only have to display their driving skills but also answer a set of 100 questions on topics such as traffic rules and current affairs. The questions will be asked in both Hindi and English but they will have the option of answering in the language they are familiar with.
Officials say apart from making people aware of traffic laws, the move will also create awareness about the need for education in Bihar where the literacy rate is much lower than the national average.
“Road accidents in the country are increasing alarmingly these days for which illiterate drivers are more to blame. We are of the view that the drivers must be literate,” Bihar transport minister Brishen Patel told the media on Monday.
According to the minister, a literate driver familiar with the traffic laws can understand the seriousness of the situation on the roads which will ultimately help check road accidents which are a matter of grave concern.
According to an official report, road accidents claimed more than 1,500 lives in Bihar in the first four months of this year with negligent or drunk drivers, totally ignorant about traffic laws, responsible for the overwhelming number of road deaths.
Apart from the lack of awareness about traffic rules among drivers, the good roads built by the ruling Nitish Kumar government in Bihar are being blamed for the alarming rise in road accidents.
Transport expert Saket Kumar Singh has said that the good roads in the state were tempting drivers to speed which is resulting in more deaths on the roads. Earlier, bad or rough roads were usually blamed for road accidents in Bihar.
“It worries me that smooth roads are causing more road accidents thanks to flouting of traffic rules by drivers,” Singh has been quoted as saying in the local media.
A nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Road Transport in May 2011 said the number of accidents in Bihar had almost doubled over the last four years, from 5,594 in 2006 to 10,065 in 2009. [GN]