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CONTINUING with Media Spectrum's commitment to ensuring better public facilities, we bring to our readers greater insight into the issue of road safety a part of which was covered in the last fortnight.

In the field of automobiles the name of T. K. Malhotra spells safe driving and better public health through greater awareness of the issues that plague our roads. T.K. Malhotra, the President of the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) has been at the forefront of auto safety and safe driving for more than 25 years now. The organization headed by Malhotra is a pioneer of sorts in the field of auto safety in this country. Immediately after partition, inspired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the late President of India, a serious thought was given by some of our senior government officers and other Social luminaries to establish a rudimentary Automobile Organisation in Northern India to acquire membership of Alliance Internationale De Tourisme (AIT) and for attending to the problems connected with the automobiles, road tax and other aspects of the life on the roads. This movement was initially spearheaded by late Shri V Shankar, ICS. It was Shri Shankar whose active interest in creating a safe environment on the roads led to the creation of Automobile Association of Upper India in 1950. AAUI has been actively pursuing its aims for the past five decades in collaboration with the automobile industry, well-wishers and a host of other leaders in the civil society. AAUI aims to promote, encourage and develop the Automobile Movement in the area of its operations and watch, support, protect, extend and defend the rights of its members and to procure for their benefit special advantages and concessions. AAUI aims to achieve al this by maintaining harmonious relations with the local government, the police, municipal and other authorities and bodies to watch carefully the local administration of all laws and regulations affecting the use of motor vehicles, to take any necessary action in these matters, and to promote and inculcate generally the principles of sanctity and safety of life and property by persons entrusted with the use or control of motor vehicles. AAUI also does a useful work on the roads to ensure lawful traffic movement; erection of direction signs and danger signals, upkeep and widening and improvement of roads, bridges and ferries are some of the works that AAUI has done consistently for the betterment of roads. Apart from these AAUI also endeavors to disseminate information concerning better driving and auto-safety across the community of auto users and helps in the maintenance and running of road services, ambulance services, first aid services and battery services.

The AAUI runs a modern scientific Driving Training School at its establishment where electronic simulators are used for imparting training to the members desirous of learning car driving. A unique facility provided by the School is the "Reflexive Testing Machine" which tests the reflexive capacity of the drivers.

Like the formerly Automobile Organization of Northern India, AAUI too is a constituent member of the AIT. The AIT has a consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and with the Council of Europe. AIT is concerned with the promotion of tourism; road transport and traffic transport, traffic problems, etc., throughout the world. AAUI represents India in AIT. In recognition of AAUI's service in the field of road safety, the World Management Committee of the AIT held its 95th International Conference in Delhi during the violent and difficult days of 20-25th March, 1993. Federation of Indian Automobile Associations and the AAUI were the hosts for the conference. Delegates from more than 60 countries participated in the conference whose execution attracted widespread appreciation from both governmental and non-governmental quarters. It was in this meeting that Mr. T K Malhotra was nominated as the Honorary Vice President of the AIT, Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Malhotra has campaigned for safe roads and safer driving practices not just through his organization; he also tries to create awareness among the people through regular writings and other public engagements. He is a regular contributor to leading newspapers and has produced two highly acclaimed TV serials for Doordarshan (Metro) called "Road Watch" and "Hello Motorist". Mr. Malhotra has exercised his authority in several high power decision making bodies in the country as well. His and his Organization's opinions are valued by the Ministry of Surface Transport, the Central Traffic Advisory Committee and the FICCI Committee on Tourism. Mr. Malhotra has also written a very useful and albeit different book on safe driving on roads titled "All you need to know about Cars and Safe Driving". Since most of the literature on automobiles emphasizes the technical side of driving and the mean machines neglecting their social aspect and impact, Malhotra's book tried to fill that crucial gap by providing the reader with information that he or she can use to utilize the vehicle better.
Readers willing to learn more about the activities of the AAUI can contact:

C-8, Qutab Institutional Area,
Behind Qutab Hotel,
New Delhi-110 016.
PH: 26852033

Senior Citizens get tips on safe driving

Express News Service, New Delhi 1 January 10

Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) organized a workshop on traffic rules for senior citizens on Friday.
Dr. P P Kotwal of AIIMS explained the various problems which elderly drivers may encounter and outlined the necessary precautions. "If accident is the disease then education is the vaccine," he said.

DCP (Traffic) M K Meena explained the various traffic rules and identified the 10 "black spots" which witness the maximum number of accidents. These include ISBT, Majnu Ka Tila, Sarai Kale Khan, Hotel Hyatt, Ashram Chowk, Nigam Bodh Ghat, Bhajanpura, Mayapuri, Mukarba Chowk and AIIMS.

The DCP explained the different steps that his department is taking to improve traffic flow. He also added that women traffic personnel would be deployed on the city roads.
Traffic awareness campaigns should not be one-week affair but should be carried out through out the year, the DCP said, adding that he was in touch with officials of RWAs and DTC in this regard.

T K Malhotra, President,AAUI, underlined the importance of preventing road accidents while Lt. Col. J R Kochhar, Secretary, AAUI, appealed to the senior citizens to take extra precaution while driving.

The event coincided with the "Road Safety Week" being observed by the Delhi Traffic Police from January 5-11. As part of the event, Delhi Traffic Police had declared Friday as a challan-free day. Instead of fining and serving notices to errant drivers, traffic officials asked motorists to take a pledge to observe traffic rules.


Pooja Kumar, New Delhi, February 26

The hoarding a top the Rawat Motors repair shop in Vasant Kunj reads "Buy and sell old cars" but a signboard resting on the ground says "Car chalana seekhein." Like the hundreds of unregistered driving schools all over the city, the owners of this shop too have adopted driving classes and licence-making as a side business.

Under the Motor Vehicle Act of 1989, every driving school needs a licence from the State Transport Authority (STA) but only 83 such schools in Delhi have one.

Forget that the Act says all driving schools should have dual contraol systems, blackboards, traffic sign charts and books, no one even knows how many schools exist.

An employee at Rawat Morots says : For Rs. 1,400/- we will get you a licence, Pay Rs. 200/- extra if you don't have proof of address. All you have to do is come to the Authority twice and sign." What about the tests? "Don'tworry, what are we charging you for? He says reassuringly.

In Sarojini Nagar, Raju Motor Training School is still operating though the STA cancelled its licence in October 2002.

Driver training boards to fit atop cars can also be seen near a juice shop and grocery store outside R K Puram's Sangam Cinema. A shopowner says: "They have been here foir over four years."

A driving school should have sufficient financial resources. The Motor Vehicles Act also says that each instructor should have a certificate in motor mechanics or mechanical engineering.

But at none of the make shift schools, like Anuj Motor Driving school in Vasant Kunj, are these norms followed, Owner Ram Karan Yadav says: " We charge Rs. 1,100 for the 15-days classes and Rs 1,200 for licence."

The manager of Shiva Motor Driver Training School, one of the few affiliated with STA, Says there's no way one can avoid the practical examination, "We cannot get you a license illegally," He says.

P. R. Meena, STA Joint Commissioner, sys:"Two years ago, a drive against unauthorised schools found that many instructors were untrained."

Following the drive, 61 school instructors were trained by the Automobile Association of Upper India and Institute of of Driver Training Research for five days, while no drivers have been undertaken since then, many schools have also not applied for renewal of STA's five-year license.

STA Commissioner Rajiv Talwar says "Regular checks and awarwness are needed to rein in these driving schools and ensure that people don't approach them.

Where to learn

* The automobile Association of Upper India(AAUI)
conducts a 21 day course, which includes six days on simulators that help one learn to drive at night and in fog and rain. Six days are spent on road. T K Malhotra, AAUI President, says :"When we conducted the training, the driving schools were initially reluctant to join."


AAUI study on more than 15,000 commercial vehicle drivers is disturbing: most drivers have poor reflex, no idea of traffic rules

Fake Driving for Test finds less than 20 PC BUS, TRUCK DRIVER'SAFE'
Pooja Kumar, New Delhi, March1

Brijesh Bhushan has been driving a chartered bus from Noida to Connaught Place for the past 20 years. Sitting in a truck Simulator at the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI), he flunks the STOP test though a recorded message repeatedly warns him. "If I stop, how will I get through the traffic?" he asks the AAUI instructor.

The Truck Simulator, which can go up to a speed of 120 KM, consists of monitors, which show the speed, use of controls and the facial expression of the driver in different conditions like fog, rain, darkness and slopes.

Like Bhushan, over 15,000 commercial vehicle drivers have been included in an AAUI study -'Psychological Aptitude of Drivers for Developing Driving Skills and the results are disturbing - only 18.17% of truck and bus drivers can be called "safe drivers".

For the first time, reflexes of drivers have also been tested. Even after allowing for failure in one of the six reflex tests, 24.37% ended up in the "unsafe driver" group.

In his 20 years as a bus driver, Bhushan had never undergone training before joining the two-day refresher course now mandatory for commercial drivers at AAUI or the Institute of Road Training Education, Loni. AAUI Secretary, Lt. Col. J R Kochhar, says: "Our pass rate is around 60%, but to achieve that we had to lower the bar. Otherwise, very few would have cleared it."

About 5.12% drivers were graded below average and 19.25% as average in the reflexes test, which is used to evaluate side vision, glare recovery, night vision, simple reaction time, complex reaction time and depth perception. AAUI President T K Malhotra says "We are proposing that reflex tests be made mandatory in driving tests for commercial vehicle drivers."

Tested on their driving skills through a truck simulator, only 18.17% of the over 15,000 truck, bus, carrier and other commercial vehicle drivers evaluated between August, 2002 and October 2003 earned the "Above Average" tag.

Malhotra is not surprised. "Since most of these drivers have graduated from being a helper, they have no understanding of traffic rules or road signs. They just paid for their licenses, " he says.