450 driving schools lost licences last year

The transport department last year cancelled licences of nearly 450 of the 2,089 driving schools in the state for flouting norms or remaining inactive.

A year ago, the department had come up with a form containing a checklist of amenities a driving school should function with and inspectors were asked to gather photographic evidence. Earlier this year, it started classifying the schools on quality.

"We kept the process watertight, leaving little scope for inspectors to use discretion in deciding if a driving school is complying with norms. We asked the inspectors to immediately fax a copy of the form with their signature as well as that of driving school administrators complete with photographic evidence of amenities," a senior official in the department said.

Meanwhile, the transport department and Mumbai Traffic Police inaugurated a road safety week, observed every January, and listed measures taken to make roads safer.

Among other initiatives, driving courses will be introduced in 149 of the 450 industrial training institutes (ITIs) in the state in a phased manner to improve quality of driving schools. So far, the department has authorised 37 ITIs to impart driving lessons.

"In the first phase, the government shortlisted institutes where motor mechanic and automobile-related infrastructure exists, as introducing training courses there would be easier," the official said.

To step up safety on roads, the department also introduced a mandatory one-day refresher course from September 2012 for renewal of all commercial driving licences granted for three years.

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