Getting a driving license will now be easier for disabled people
Getting a driving license will become easier for disabled people now that the Centre has said that it would ease the process by amending the Motor Vehicles Bill 2019, a move that has won authorities a loud round of cheer.
Getting a driving license until now has been a process filled with pain and much harassment for disabled people. With Road Transport Official officials at local levels unaware of guidelines regarding people with disabilities, the process is filled with delays and disappointments.
Now with the Centre planning to ease the rules for disabled people in the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, aspiring disabled drivers who have not yet obtained a license, have reasons to hope.
While the criteria is not clear as yet, there are reports that visually impaired people, those with mobility challenges, and mental health issues will not be eligible. However, deaf and hard of hearing people will be. To get a license, all applicants must clear written and driving tests. They must have a modified vehicle as per their specific needs and this must be approved of by the Road Transport Office (RTO). Once this is done, they can apply for license.
Musthafa Thorappa, a wheelchair user, who modifies vehicles for people with disabilities, hopes this will speed up the process.
Most officials do not even know the guidelines that must be followed when issuing license to a person with a disability. There are strict government orders on the criteria that must be followed. What I have noticed is that, even though we try and explain things to them they do not have the time and patience to understand it. So the struggle is real. Since there are many loopholes to the guidelines, officials point them out. Even though inclusion in driving is much discussed, no one follows that. So I believe easing rules and regulations is going to make obtaining licenses easier for people with disabilities. - Musthafa Thorappa, wheelchair user
In 2016, the Centre had said that if a person with disability passes all tests, he/she must be issued a license. The RPWD Act, 2016 clearly states that there must be inclusion in driving formalities but with no formal guidelines, 80% of disabled people who are eligible are still struggling to get their rights.
Unni Maxx, a disability rights activist from Kerala, who did not face such struggles, hopes there will be a change for the better now.
"It has become much easier in Kerala but there are many people who are still waiting to get it in spite of clearing all tests. Also, I believe this new step from the Centre is a good change towards considering demands of people from disabled community".