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Media Watch


WORKSHOP LEAVES HEAVY VEHICLE DRIVERS WISER
By A Staff Reporter,
The Times of India, September 23, 1998

Meet Suresh Pratap Singh, a Blue Line bus driver on Route No. 680. Till about a few months back, his only concern while at the wheel used to be to meet the deadline for the consecutive trips. What followed was Formula Racing stuff on busy city roads.

Today, it's a thing of the past for him. So no more reckless driving, no more lane-jumping, no more stoppages in the middle of the road and no more fights with passengers and fellow drivers on the roads for this 27-year old.

The reform, he says, has come through a two-day workshop aimed at inculcating better driving attitude in heavy motor vehicle drivers. Conducted by Automobile Association of Upper India in association with the surface transport ministry, the areas covered by the workshop include the essential qualities of a good driver, causes of accidents and their remedies, traffic control measures, knowledge of road signs, lane discipline, testing of reflexes using simulators.

Highlighting the elements of the workshop, AAUI President T.K. Malhotra said the most striking feature of the programme was testing the drivers' reflexes on the Drivers reflexes testing System, a gadget introduced for the first time.

Mr. Malhotra urged the government to make it obligatory for every heavy vehicle driver to have a refresher training certificate from the AAUI or any other recognised institution before his licence could be renewed.

"Come what may, I will never compromise on road safety", says Suresh. While he was the only Blue Line bus driver at the workshop, there were drivers of school buses, chartered services, Border Security Force, Airport Authority of India and several other organisations who were awarded certificates for successful completion of the course, on Tuesday.

Ashok Kumar, driver of a Bal Bharati School bus, feels the workshop has helped clear his doubts. "It was an eye-opener. There were many rules which I felt were correct, but realised were wrong", says Ashok.

The first such workshop started in the month of July with just 19 drivers. The numbers have been swelling since then. To encourage more and more drivers to join such workshops, the government has awarded an accident insurance policy for one year, of Rs.1 lakh, to each driver with the certificate. Also, to make sure they do no lose out on their day's earnings, Rs.100 a day as pocket expenses, with lunch and refreshments, is also provided for.

Transport Commissioner S. Reghunathan said the usual tendency among most drivers was that rules are for others. "What it should actually be is,others' safety is in my hands," he said.

Mr. Reghunathan emphasised the need for "defensive driving training" for Delhi roads.

TEACHING THE TEACHERS
THE PIONEER, TUESDAY NOVEMBER 19, 2002

Before you walk into your neighbourhood driving school to learn the art of steering the wheel, stop. Just ask the instructor about his credentials as an "expert" driver, his institution's licence and most importantly if he has attended the Train the Trainer programme at the Institute of Driving Training and Research (IDTR) and Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI). With over 1,000 driving schools operating in the city, of which only a few hundred are registered with the transport authority, chances of finding qualified instructors without hunting for them are abysmally low.

In the wake of the increasing number of accidents, the government has made it mandatory for all driving school instructors to attend this five-day session at IDTR or AAUI. However, the response has been luke-warm. Since November 5, only 61instructors have attended this course. "Only two batches (with 27and 34 learners) have undergone this training module. The third batch starts on November 26. Hopefully, the concept will catch on,"says AAUI president T.K. Malhotra.

The exercise is aimed at creating awareness about driving schools among the masses. "If a pilot is trained on a simulator, why shouldn't road drivers or trainers be made to undergo such a test?" he asks.

The concept took shape from the Driver Improvement Programme, launched in 1987, wherein the driver's licence was punched for every traffic offence. At the time of licence renewal, the offenders were directed to undergo refresher-training courses. The system was discontinued as it could not be practically executed. However, it has now been introduced in the revised form, adds Malhotra. The five-day, first-of-its-kind course costs Rs.1,500at either AAUI or IDTR.

The course is carried out with in a simulator room where special Skoda equipment has been imported from Czech Republic for Rs. 1 crore. "The machine analyses a driver's behavioural pattern and his reflexes, besides conducting a psychological test, " says Malhotra.

The two organisations are also running a two-day refresher course at Rs.300 for heavy vehicle and school transport drivers, sponsored by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. "This might help bring some order on the roads," offers Malhotra.

To conduct basic research in the attitudes that lead to road accidents, AAUI has also undertaken a project to analyse the psychological aptitudes of various categories of drivers. The study includes the nature of habitual shortcomings in drivers of various age groups and their educational backgrounds. Till date, 1000 drivers have been put through the tests.

The project intends covering 5000 drivers over the next three years."Hhowever, the analysis has brought some interesting facts to light. In over 80 percent cases, it has been noticed that in the first 10 years, drivers learn important skills and take safety precautions. But once the person crosses the age of 40, no fresh learning or improvement is observed.

In fact, a causal attitude sets in which contributes to the increased number of accidents," says he.

An AAUI project review committee also found out that the current method of testing a driver's vision is outdated. " The government needs to lay down specific norms in this regard. When such standards are mandatory elsewhere in the world, why can't these be introduced here?" wonders Malhotra.

"Though the sample size is small,"says he,"it does underline the need to thoroughly revise the eye vision standards for issuance or renewal of driving licences. We have also commissioned a machine to test drivers' reflexes, including side vision, depth perception, simple reaction, complex reaction, night vision and glare recovery."

FILTER TO DRIVE AWAY HIGH BEAM LIGHTS
The Indian Express, Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A Driving filter, which reduces the glare of high beam and won't cost more than Rs.400 has been given a good report after user trials.

The filter - a plate coated with a specific metal - is fixed near the driver's sunshade. It will be a great help to drivers like Amita Sawhney, who almost ran over a woman on the Ring Road in Cantonment.

"I was driving on a poorly-lit stretch at around 10 pm last December. All vehicles were on high beam, I could hardly see. Suddenly, I saw a woman crossing the road. I missed her by a whisker,"Sawhney said.

The filter have been devised by the Chandigarh-based Central Scientific Instrument Organisation (CSIO), which works under the Science and Technology Ministry. The Automobile Association of Upper India has sent to the government its report on users' trials, and the filters are studied by car manufacturers.

AAUI chairman T.K. Malhotra said :"Such a gadget is necessary as there are no rules governing the use of high and low beams by vehicles." Delhi's roads are not lit uniformly and high and low beams from vehicles affects motorists.

In 1995, the government made it a rule that headlights in all vehiches have to be painted half black. "It was a non-starter as people were not left with a choice when driving on highways," Malhotra said. Drivers were stuck low beam even in poorly lit areas.

The filters will not be a burden on the wallet and the estimated cost is a few hundred rupees, said officials. Motorists, who used the filters during trial runs, said the glare was reduced to a comfortable level and didn't obstruct their left hand side view.

The high beam was reduced by 40-50 percent and low beam by 50 to 60 percent. Drivers, who were part of the trials, were between their early twenties and late fifties.

Fifty seven year old Ram Kumar drove his Maruti 800 from Vasant Kunj to Jawaharlal Nehru University, a distance of 15 kilometers, betweeen 9 pm to 9.30 pm. Ashok Kumar (24) drove 12 kilometers from Hauz Khas to AIIMS between 8.40 pm and 9.30 pm. The tests were conducted in May, 2002.

The filter can be a great help to night drivers like Anu Singh, a Delhi-based MNC's employee and a resident of Gurgaon Phase I. "I have to drive back home on the national highway almost every night, battling high beams from speeding trucks. There should be a device which reduces glare but doesn't disturb my concentration," she said.


IT's PERMANENT RED AT ADHCHINI INTERSECTION

By Shruti Kohli, Courtesy Indian Express, dated 19 January 2003

Always in a queue, at AdhchiniTraffic on the Adhchini intersection between Yusuf Sarai and Mehrauli either moves at a snail's pace or doesn't move at at, commuters have been complaining for two years.

They suggest a flyover from the Police Training School turning till the Mother's International School intersection can solve the problem. But Rohit Baluja, director of Institute of Road and Traffic Education, believes "the immediate need is to properly engineer the traffic in the area by putting up signages and road markings." U-turns on the intersection should be banned. Bus stops and parking lots from Adhchini to Mother's International should be removed, he said.

Traffic expert T.K. Malhotra said :"The problem lies a little ahead at the Police Training School (PTS) t-point which takes in heavy traffic from Mehrauli, Saket and Yusuf Sarai but not even a single traffic policeman stands there." There are too many traffic signals which affect smooth flow of traffic, Malhotra said.

Malhotra suggested that stationing traffic policemen at Adhchini and the PTS turning will help traffic.

A PROJECT FOR SAFE SCHOOL BUSES
Courtesy The Hindu, dated February 19, 2003

Concerned over the increasing safety hazards by students during their travel from home to school and back, the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) in association with Delhi Public School Society has launched a "Safe School Bus 2003" project.

The ambitious project - said to be the first of its kind in the country - is aimed at making school management, bus drivers, students and parents understand their responsibilities towards safe transportation of school children.

At a function held here today in the presence of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor, Vijai Kapoor, the AAUI and Delhi Public School Society signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard.

The project will cover 1800 contract carriage buses, over 1000 buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation, RTVs (rural transport vehicles) involved in transporting school children, the AAUI President T.K. Malhotra said.

The AAUI has brought out a brochure on "School Bus Safety" and a booklet on the "ABC of Road Safety for distribution among school students for awareness. The brochure "Know the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules" when handed over to the drivers by the respective schools will serve as an instant reminders for drivers to adhere to the rules, he said.

As many as six workshops have been planned in the Capital's schools to provide a common platform to the management, parents, students, drivers and conductors to learn by interacting on safety aspects of school transport, Mr. Malhotra said, adding : "Road safety experts will be associated with this programme."

Under the project, the AAUI has commenced special courses to upgrage the driving skills of the drivers deployed on school bus duties. Some of the important features of this syllabus that has been approved by Delhi transport Department include skills in handling vehicles, stress management and relaxation techniques, child psychology, driving habits and compulsory reflexes test and eye examination.

The decision to launch this project, Mr. Malhotra said, was taken at a recent meeting chaired by the Delhi Transport Commissioner on the menace on Capital's roads taking toll of innocent lives of school children in crashes involving school transport.

ONE MORE MALE BASTION ABOUT TO FALL
By Lalit K. Jha, Courtesy The Hindu, dated February 20, 2003

Women are all set to storm one more male bastion. And if everything goes according to plan, they will soon occupy the driver's seat in commercial vehicles across the Capital.

So for only Delhi Metro could boast of women  drivers such as Meenakshi Sharma  here. Now there will be  more  of them on Delhi's roads driving  school busesTaking the cue from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation which has employed three women drivers, the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have decided to impart professional driving lessons to women from weaker sections of society.The move has full support of the Delhi Government which has already been advised schools to recruit women drivers for their fleets of buses. In fact, a government survey has revealed that parents feel more secure if school vehicles are driven by women.

"The training, which will begin next month, will open up new job opportunities for women," says the AAUI President, T.K. Malhotra, adding that the practice is already prevalent in cities like Pune and Bangalore.

After getting trained, women can also seek employment as taxi drivers, school bus drivers and van drivers for school children. "Enterprising young girls can also purchase and operate their own rural transport vehicle," says Mr. Malhotra. "Some non-government organisations and public schools have already approached us for imparting professional training to women." AAUI has developed a special 21 day course for this purpose. Training would be imparted for two successful candidates from the first batch as instructors for subsequent courses. "Once the project takes off in Delhi, we will start similar courses in the rest of the country,"asserts Mr. Malhotra.


DELHI SCHOOL LAUNCHES TRANSPORT SAFETY PROJECT

By Express News Services, Courtesy Indian Express, dated February 19th 2003.


To promote safety of children in school buses Delhi Public School (DPS) and the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) today launched the project - 'Safe School Bus 2003'.

The project will cover 1800 contract carriage buses, over 1000 DTC buses, and rural transport vehicles (RTVs) engaged in transporting school children, said the AAUI President T.K. Malhotra. A brochure 'School Bus Safety Law', and booklet 'ABC of Road Safety' has been released by the AAUI. These will be distributed to teachers, students and drivers.

GOVT. TO ENSURE SAFETY OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
By HT Correspondent, Courtesy The Hindu, dated December 27th, 2002

The Delhi Government on Friday unveiled measures to ensure the safety of school children. It banned the use of private vehicles to transport children and said drivers and conductors of school-owned buses will have to obtain annual certificates.

Transport Minister Ajay Maken said private vehicles, which charged exorbitant fares, did not pay attention to safety, herding children into their buses. "I have seen children being made to sit on LPG cylinders. (These buses are) time bombs and we need to take action against them,"he said.

But Maken admitted 1800 school-owned buses and around 1100 DTC buses may not be adequate to transport school children.

To improve the skills of drivers of school-owned buses, around 1200 drivers and conductors will be trained every month by the Institute of Drivers Training and Research (IDTR) and Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI), beginning January 14. "By May all the drivers of school-owned buses will be trained," Maken said.

Renewal of licences every three years, after refresher courses from IDTR or AAUI, has been made mandatory.

MOVE TO MAKE SCHOOL BUSES SAFER
By Our Staff Reporter, Courtesy The Hindu, dated December 27th.

Taking a major step towards making travel in school buses and other modes of transport ferrying school children safe, the Delhi Government today made it mandatory for drivers and conductors to undergo "formal training" to qualify for driving these vehicles. Any driver not taking this training would be penalised and not allowed to drive school vehicles.

Addressing a press conference here, the state Transport Minister, Ajay Maken, announced that a crackdown would be launched against those Maruti Vans operating on LPG cylinders and ferrying school students. Stating the Shiela Dikshit Government's resolve to ensure that certain safety parameters are adhered to by those operating school buses, Mr. Maken also informed that school principals and those in charge of buses carrying school children would also be imparted training for which one round of meetings has already been held. The next one would be held on January 14.

Mr. Maken said all the 1800 contract carriage buses, 1100 DTC buses and the various types of vans and Rural Transport Vehicles ferrying school children would be covered under the training scheme. The entire programme is scheduled to be completed by next May. The drivers would have to shell out Rs.350 for training programme and 1200 people would be trained per month. The training would be imparted to these personnel at IDTR and AAUI the two organisations that have facilities or imparting training. The authorities would use the fortnight-long vacation to train the drivers. It would be mandatory for these drivers to undergo the course once a year to test their skills.

The Minister said the syllabus of the Motor Driving Training Schools has been amended suitably and a new integrated syllabus has been introduced. Some of the important features of the new course are yoga, stress management and eye examination. The renewal and issuance of driving licences for commercial vehicles has been made more stringent and refresher courses from IDTR and AAUI are being made compulsory. Instructions are also being issued transport-in-charge of schools to keep a watch on drivers and conductors when children alight and board school buses.


SPECIAL TRAINING FOR SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS
By Times News Network, Courtesy Times of India, dated December 28th 2002.

Delhi state transport department has made it mandatory for the school bus drivers to undergo special training to make school transportation safer and more reliable.

Addressing a press conference on Friday state transport minister Ajay Maken said : "About 1800 private buses are employed with schools in the city. We want the drivers and cleaners of all these buses to undergo the training."

Institute of Drivers' Training and Research and Automobile Association of Upper India are the two agencies selected by the government for imparting the training. The training sessions will begin in January, 2003.

Maken said:"We must realise that a bus full of children will have to be treated differently from a bus full of adults. Drivers ferrying children need to be sensitive to their needs."

SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS TO ATTEND YEARLY DRIVING LESSONS : MINISTER
By Express News Services, Courtesy Indian Express, dated December 27th 2002.

Delhi Transport Minister Ajay Maken today announced that all school bus drivers in the city will have to undergo compulsory training once a year.

He added that all school bus drivers have to undergo training by May next year or have his vehicle impounded. "We have decided to be pro-active to ensure the safety of school children. Besides, the CNG buses have different safety requirement of which people are ignorant," Maken said.

The Minister said that parents can dial the helpline number 9604 400 400 to lodge a complaint and assured that action would be taken against the erring drivers on the basis of these complaints.

Drivers can be penalised for not being trained, for overcrowding in buses or for making children sit close to where the CNG or LPG cylinders are kept.

"The norms have already been laid down in the Motor Vehicles Act which was amended in 1998. We are only enforcing the law," Maken said.

He added that the initial training would cover only school-owned buses and would later include private vans and chartered carriers.

The training would be imparted not just to drivers and attendants, but to principals, technical staff as well as students.The training programme is being conducted with the assistance of Automobile Association of Upper India and the Institute of Driving Training and Research. A three-day training for one driver would cost the school Rs.350.

Maken said that the programme was already on for the past two years but was of a voluntary nature.



State transport commissioner Sindhushree Khullar said :"The training would include soft skills such as being aware that passengers are small and that they must apply the brake gently."She said the drivers and cleaners would be taught emergency evacuation and first-aid skills as well.Besides drivers and cleaners, transport-in-charges of schools would also be trained.Pamphlets on safety tips will be distributed free to school children.


ONE FOR THE ROAD : STUDY FINDS OWNER TANK UP BEFORE THEIR RIDE
By Shruti Kohli, Courtesy Indian Express, dated 30.11.2002

Most Drivers prefer to run away in case of a hit -and -run
Survey Findings:-
-60 percent pf owner-drivers don't mind mixing driving and drinking
-Belive it's better to free from accident sites.
-Willing to overspeed to meet a deadline
-80 percent of people questioned had poor tolerance

Nearly 60 percent of Delhites who drive their own cars are "not averse to gulping a peg or two before taking to the wheels," a survey has found.The Automobile Association of Upper India's study questioned 2000 owner drivers, who"were happy to blame others" for accidents caused by their mistakes. The drivers were hurt due to these driving mistakes and their vehicles were damaged.

Nearly 60 percent of the drivers said in hit and run cases, it was better to run away from the accident spot to avoid legal consequences".

All these despite a vigorous campaign by Delhi Police to prevent drunk driving. The Delhi Traffic Police checks for drunk drivers but only three or four times a year, around festivals.

The study showed that more than 30 percent of the drivers "were prone to drive fast to meet deadlines". AAUI president's T.K. Malhotra said : "Drivers should know that they are surrounded by people who don't have a very fine attitude towards other road users". Accidents happen due to drivers' failure to establish a rapport with their counterparts. The study is unique as it didn't question chauffeurs but private car owners who drive. This was done to emphasise that owners are equally responsible as drivers of commercial heavy goods vehicles for accident in Delhi. The people questioned were among the 1 lakh members of the Automobile Association of Upper India.

Rohit Baluja, president of Institute of Road Traffic Education, said that he doesn't believe that most car owner-drivers in Delhi drink before taking the wheel.

But he accepted that people flee after a hit-and-run. Improper probe of accidents is responsible for this. In over 70 percent of accidents, car drivers are penalised for no fault of theirs."The Delhi Traffic Police should do as much to analyse the victim and the accused before deciding over an accident," he said.

If a car hits a drunk pedestrian, who is crossing a busy road, it will be the driver who will be punished, he said.

Drivers overspeed because traffic rules are not implemented. Speed limit should be decided taking into account the volume of traffic on a road and the time, the study said.Signages should be installed at proper places. The speed limit signages at traffic intersections put the proportion at 50/40, for cars and HGV's respectively. The speed at intersections is supposed to be far lower than this. The implementation procedure needs to be improved, he said.

The poll also found that over 80 percent of the drivers get irritated and had poor tolerance level.

This is a major cause for road rage, Malhotra said. Commercial drivers are being given compulsory refresher training courses which teach them stress management. Over 60 percent of drivers were found to be superstitious.



DELHI's WHEELS GET A LIGHTER TOUCH
By Nilima Pathak, Courtesy Gulf News, dated January 6, 2003.

A women at the wheel of a  Delhi schoolbus.-GN picture by Subhash  BharadwajWith a woman at the helm as chief minister, women's empowerment is the buzzword in the Capital; and one of the first visible steps may well be the Delhi Government initiating steps to allow women to drive school buses.According to Delhi state's Transport Minister Ajay Maken, a suggestion has been made to several schools in the city known to operate their own buses to recruit women drivers for Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) school buses. He said that the DTC was already overstaffed hence it would not be possible to recruit afresh.

No leniency

According to a transport department official, inquiries have been pouring in from women, but so far, only one woman has secured a commercial driving license.

"A woman has to be as fit as her male counterpart and the transport department will not exercise any kind of leniency in the selection of the women drivers of school buses. This, despite our belief that women will probably be extra careful, as far as children are concerned," he remarked.

The proposal for women schoolbus drivers follows the hiring of three women as Metro Rail Operators. The government has also introduced 25 deluxe buses as ladies specials on Delhi roads. The move has prompted many to remark that women are finding favour with the present Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. "It's gender bias," remarked an amused DTC driver.

The new women's specials painted yellow and green unlike other DTC buses are clean and comfortable. With soft seats and spotless curtains, and the feeling they are "safe", women are finding it a lot more convenient to use these buses. Says Anjali Khurana, Delhi University student "At least I do not have to worry about eve teasers."

Another woman, a lawyer, boarded the deluxe bus before realising it was a ladies special with the same normal fare as in other buses. She praised the city government on its willingness to cater to women's needs.

"After the official pronouncements on the status of women and enactment of constitutional amendments, new dimensions have been added to the issue of women's empowerment," she said. "It is now up to the women to take initiatives and prove their worth," she added.

Support

Support for women school bus drivers has also come from the President of the Automobile Association of Upper India, T.K. Malhotra. "A woman seeing off her child to school would feel more comfortable if a woman was at the wheel because as a fact women are considered kind-hearted and driver carefully," he felt. At the same time he questioned the kind of woman who would choose such a career.

"Uptill now we have only heard of women in villages acquiring the skills of driving heavy vehicles. But if city graduates are motivated by their families to venture into the driver's seat of private school buses, it will be a revolution."

Schools, he said, should be more careful as far as their own buses are concerned. "There is a need for discipline in the sector ignored till now. It should be made mandatory for a driver to check brakes, accelerator, etc. before he sets on the road. It may not be possible for a woman driver to be well versed with the mechanism, but then schools could have a tie-up with workshops or have mechanics at hand to have a proper check before a vehicle hits the road,"he felt.

Training

According to Malhotra, "This kind of a proper regular check-up can only be expected from women drivers, hence we are keen that Delhi follows the example of the Pune Municipal Corporation's initiative and emulate them by putting women in the driving seat of school buses."

The AAUI has one of the best training schools in Asia, he said. All kinds of training under adverse weather conditions was imparted to drivers at the centre in Qutub Institutional Area in the city. The centre has the infrastructure where road-like conditions can be sinulated without actually going on the road. "Moreover, we have offered to train women free of cost," Malhotra stated.

A recent High Court order has made refresher course mandatory for drivers. As a pre-condition for renewal of a licence, a commercial vehicle drivers have to undergo refresher courses every three years.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police officers have also welcomed the AAUI move. Remarks an officer, "It will be good to have women driving school buses. They are certainly more sensitive to situations."

Ticket to Ride
By Amit Dixit, Courtesy Outlook Traveller, March, 2003.


Driving abroad? License please. AMIT DIXIT tells you where to go

To make the most of a foreign trip, it's difficult to beat driving through the country of your visit. Driving gives you flexibility and, on an unfamiliar road, a sense of adventure. Try getting either on a package tour as you're herded from one sight to another. Be assured, there will always be places you'll want to spend more time exploring, or simply stop. And stay on. Discover at your pace, your way. Throw cut that package, all you riders and drivers, but keep the journey.

And-the UN be thanked-permission to drive in foreign climes is easily obtained. Only add one little item to your packing list. The document in question is the International Driving Permit(IDP), which, once you are its proud possessor, will enable you to drive in over 200countries the world over. Also thank the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme(AIT), a world transport and tourism body founded in 1898, which initiated the UN International road conventions dealing with the IDP. These were then adopted by most countries.

Basically, the IDP is a special license, meant for tourists and short/term visitors, allowing them to drive vehicles in international traffic without any further tests or applications. It is proof that the holder possesses a valid driver's license issued by a competent authority in his/her country of residence. The IDP can accommodate drivers of all types of conveyances from motorcycles and automobiles to heavy trucks and buses (but in a non-commercial capacity).
The permit has many additional uses. Apart from letting you drive in a foreign country without further documentation, it serves as an additional photo identification and proof of age. Most importantly, you cannot rent a vehicle without it. Even if an IDP is not mandatory in the country you're driving in, rental agencies will (or at least should) always insist on seeing one.

The 1949, 1954 and 1968 international road conventions of the UN deal with the issuance of IDPs with a one-year validity. This is the IDP issued to Indians in India. If you intend to stay longer in the country you're visiting, you'll need to get a proper local license before the IDP expires. The 1968 convention also allows for IDPs with a validity of three years. But these are not issued in India.

Apply for the IDP at any Regional Transport Office in the country. Supporting documents include a valid driving license, attested copy of birth certificate, valid passport and visa, attested copy of address proof, and two passport-size photographs. The IDP invites a fee of Rs. 200/-.
Note: Ideally, it is required that the addresses on your passport and driving license tally. Falling which, you will have to furnish the latest proof of residence. This may be done by producing an election ID, an LIC policy which is at least two years old, or a copy of the lease deed of your residence or proof of ownership thereof.

To obtain an IDP you must make an application in person (there will be an interview) and pass an International road signs test. Note also that an IDP is non-renewable. Once it expires, you have to apply afresh. It generally takes two working days to process the application.

Indian automobile associations are also authorized to issue IDPs to their members. Needless to say, this facilitates the process greatly. There are a number of add-ons as well. "IDPs issued by automobile associations and clubs associated with AIT provide not only the convenience of hiring vehicles in the countries of the visit, but also help the tourist in addressing any problems, related to their land travel, to the respective automobile association in the country of the their visit on a reciprocal basis," says T. K. Malhotra, President, Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI). Along with the IDP, AAUI provides members travelling abroad with a booklet of American and European road signs, and an AIT International reciprocity card which helps obtain the services and facilities of AIT-affiliate automobile associations and clubs the world over. "Besides, a 'Show Your Card & Save' discount card entitles the holder to discounts at over 50,000 establishments in Europe, Canada and the US," adds Malhotra. In exceptional cases, the AAUI also supplies IDPs to non-members. In any case, membership fees are nominal and come with a host of benefits, many of direct benefit to the outbound tourist. So you should consider joining up.

Some Clarifications: An IDP is not a valid license for driving in the country of issue. So, as an Indian, you cannot use the IDP to drive in India. Foreigners visiting India and carrying a valid IDP can, of course, drive in the country. Also note that, in some countries (like Saudi Arabia and Switzerland), the IDP is accepted after payment of a special registration fee; check with the concerned consulate. Next foreign trip, get that IDP. It helps.