Are Four-Wheeler Driving License Enough to Drive Auto Rickshaws?
In India, there are different types of driving licenses for different types of vehicles. For example, you have the Motor Cycle Driving License, the LMV (Light Motor Vehicle) License, the HMV (Heavy Motor Vehicle) License, the HTV (Heavy Transport Vehicle) License and so on. Besides these, you also have the learner's license meant for trainee drivers or riders. However, when it comes to taxis or vehicles of public transport like buses or auto rickshaws, they need to have a Badge in addition to their driving licenses.
No Commercial Driving Licenses Required for Taxis or Rickshaws
In July 2017, the Supreme Court of India said that a regular driving license would suffice for public transport vehicles and other, additional endorsements were not needed. This is with regards to Light Motor Vehicles or LMV. In the case of medium or heavy goods vehicles, or passenger vehicles, however, this endorsement would be very much necessary, even when used commercially. This has made the overall process of getting a license simpler. Earlier, one had to wait for at least a year before he or she could get a commercial driving license even after getting his or her private license.
What this means is that if a person is authorized to drive a vehicle, no matter what sort of vehicle he drives, he can drive that vehicle either for private purposes or for hire or even for carrying goods. According to the standards that have been set by the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, any vehicle is said to be a Light Motor Vehicle or LMV if its weight is under 7,500 kilograms. So, there needn't be any separate endorsement for driving such vehicles, no matter the purpose.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Ruling
All said the ruling came with both merits as well as demerits. Before the ruling came into the picture, cops used to harass taxi drivers. This will now go down, thanks to the ruling. So, this can be considered as one of the major advantages of the ruling.
However, there are two sides to any coin, and this one's no exception. The badge along with the auto driving license or taxi, the drivers must have with them can be obtained only after rigorous tests. But now that the ruling has come forth, the quality of the drivers will go down.
This means that these drivers now have the liberty to drive as they like, often without following any of the traffic rules. So, what this tells us is we need both strict driving tests, wherein they also teach and test the trainee drivers for basic civic sense, as well as some amount of freedom for drivers so that the law enforcement harassments can be kept in check.
Also, in the case of rash or reckless driving by taxi or auto rickshaw drivers, there should be strict rules in place for cancellation or suspension of licenses of the drivers.
The Present Situation
At present, the regular driving licenses have a validity of 20 years, while the commercial driving licenses have to be renewed every three years. Also, getting a commercial license is more tedious than getting a regular driving license. And while the existing situation in India is most people tend to violate, the traffic rules almost every other day and cause accidents, the ruling can also be viewed as an opportunity to take action against such people. The move is also bound to increase the number of taxis and autorickshaw drivers, which can eventually increase the potential to compete in today's international markets. And drivers of small vehicles have welcomed the ruling with open arms.
So, with this ruling in place, even a person with a personal driving license which has been issued only to drive an LMV can now drive a commercial taxi or an omnibus. However, the only thing to keep in mind would be the vehicle's weight shouldn't exceed the prescribed limit.
Following the enforcement of the new ruling, the Supreme Court has now issued orders for all the state governments and their guides, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways or MoRTH, to enforce the new rules in their respective states, and to make sure they follow them strictly. In this way, the new rule, just as with any other rule, comes with its own set of limitations. However, it also offers some freedom to the drivers as well as the vehicles.
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