Friday, January 22, 2010

35 lakh vehicles, 10 lakh unlicensed drivers in city

35 lakh vehicles, 10 lakh unlicensed drivers in city

An Amendment to Motor Vehicles act envisages mandatory six-months' imprisonment for offenders

MK Madhusoodan. Bangalore



More than 10 lakh people drive vehicles on city roads without proper driving licences, police said, adding that 700 to 800 unlicensed motorists are caught every week.
Elaborating on the disturbing trend, additional commissioner of police (traffic) Praveen Sood said that letting people without a valid licence get behind the wheel could cause untold misery for the driver as well as the vehicle owner in case of a mishap.
"We do not insist on motorists showing their driving licences in the normal course of duty to avoid harassing anybody. However, we do ask them for it in the eventuality of a traffic offence," said Sood.
"If a person involved in an accident doesn't have a licence, he/she won't be able to receive compensation. The vehicle owner, on the other hand, will have to face punitive action – even a prison sentence – for letting an unlicensed person drive it," Sood said.
In most cases, insurance companies wash their hands of the whole matter if the motorist involved does not possess a licence. "In cases like these, both the driver and owner of the vehicle are held guilty, and will have to pay compensation from their own pockets. Once the victim, or his/her kin, proves that the erring persons hold any immovable property, it will be attached through a legal process after their guilt is established," Sood noted.
However, in most cases, this does not work in favour of the victims. "More often than not, the victims don't get the monetary compensation they deserve because they find it hard to prove that the guilty parties own immovable properties. This is largely because the property proof has to be produced by the victims," he added.
Senior advocate CV Sudhindra, who has dealt with several cases of the kind, said that victims are mostly put through a lot of hardship because they end up paying for their medical expenses from their own pockets. "It becomes more painful if the victim dies because insurance companies deny the right to compensation on such occasions," he said.
Meanwhile, the number of vehicles that are added to city roads with each passing day only compounds the problem. While the vehicle capacity of roads in the city is a meagre three lakh, they are currently being used by more than 35 lakh vehicles.

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