By January end, driving tests at the Lado Sarai track will be done in the automated mode — making the process in Delhi completely devoid of human intervention, officials aware of the development said. Of the total 13 test tacks in Delhi, 12 have already gone automatic. The tests are done manually only at Lado Sarai, they added.
State transport department officials said that the automation work is in the “final stages” at Lado Sarai driving test facility. “The sensors, overhead cameras, and various other equipment required for converting a manual driving test track into an automated track have been installed. The software installation work is also in the final stage. After the Lado Sarai facility starts evaluating driving skills automatically, Delhi will (probably) become the only city in the country where all the driving tests are evaluated with automation, without manual intervention,” the officials added.
Automated Driving Test Tracks (ADTT) are used to evaluate the driving skills of people seeking a permanent driver’s licence. The ADTTs uses a variety of driving tests mechanism including up-gradient which is one of the toughest tests designed to separate a skilled driver from the unskilled one; forward-8, reverse-S and traffic junctions. The applicants seeking permanent licences are tested on as many as 24 driving parameters through sensors and cameras on these tracks. Unlike the earlier practice, the automated tracks have no human intervention and declare as “passed” only those who manoeuvre their vehicle conforming to all the rules.
Delhi’s first automated driving test track was opened at Sarai Kale Khan in June 2018, and since then, the city has built a total of 12 such tracks. Now, the state transport department has almost completed the work on the Lado Sarai ADTT and may open it for public by the end of the next month.
The Lado Sarai test track caters to applicants seeking permanent driver’s license from a large area in South Delhi including Vasant Kunj, Hauz Khas, Vasant Vihar, Munirka, Green Park, Safdarjung Enclave, and different parts of Delhi Cantonment area.
Transport commissioner Ashish Kundra said the automation of the testing track will paly a critical role in ensuring that only those who got skills are given a permanent licence. “The automated driving testing tracks makes the job easier for the licence issuing authority as well. After all existing driving test tracks become automated, the manual evaluation of driving skills will be eliminated. The automated driving test tracks are crucial from the standpoint of road safety. Safe roads needs safe drivers . Automated test tracks eliminate human discretion and rule out the chances of allowing deviant drivers to secure a license. The percentage of applicants qualifying the driving skill tests through the automated tracks is lower than through the manual version,” said Kundra.
Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot said, “Delhi is going to be the first state to shift to a completely automated process of testing driving skills. The move is aimed at ensuring that only the best drivers are able to procure driving licence in Delhi. It is going to play a critical role in making the roads of the capital and other places safer. Skilled driving is one of the major components of safer roads. After the introduction of ADTTs, the failure rate in driving tests has gone up, and nearly 50% people do not pass the tests.”
The 12 operational ADTTs are located at Shakur Basti, Raja Garden, Mayur Vihar, Rohini Sector 28, Hari Nagar, two centres at Burari, Loni Road, Dwarka Sector 22, Jharoda Kalan, Vishwas Nagar and Sarai Kale Khan. Lado Sarai centre, which is in the final stage, will be the 13th automated ADTT when it becomes operational and driving tests start at the facility, a transport official said.
Another transport department official said nearly 40,000 people take tests for driver’s license in a month in Delhi, and around 50% of them flunk the tests. “Not more than 50% applicants taking driving tests in the automated driving test tracks qualify, but in the manual version the pass percentage is higher, sometimes going as high as 80%,” the official said.
Rohit Baluja, a road safety expert and president of Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), said the skills that are tested during the driving tests are limited and not adequate for the real-life conditions on the streets. “This is what leads to untrained drivers getting behind the wheels and is one of the causes of accidents. In developed countries, a licensing officer spends 50 minutes on an average evaluating the driving skills, while in our country one licensing officer handles 100-200 applications in a day. The defensive driving tests and wisdom testing should be done, but in that case the pass percentage will further drop,” said Baluja.