DTC steps up effort to train bus drivers
The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), owned and operated by the Delhi government, has embarked upon a massive safety programme to impart specialised training to its drivers who drive low-floor buses made by Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland.
The institute is a joint venture between Ashok Leyland and the Government of NCT of Delhi. Set up in 2005, it is spread over 12 acres and accredited by the Delhi government to be among four such centres in the NCR. The Institute's objective is to empower commercial vehicle drivers with all the essential safety practices so that they drive better and responsibly. Statistics reveal that human error is the sole cause in a majority of all road accidents in India and is a contributing factor in over 90 percent. Clearly, scientific driver training is the most definitive remedy.
It is just this need that the DTI aims to fulfill. With state-of-the-art infrastructure built over eight acres, the Institute has a 1.8km driving track with various road configurations (S-shaped bend, U-shaped bend), complete with electronic signals, signboards, road markings and streetlights for night driving. Trained instructors impart theoretical and practical training to the drivers. In line with the driving environment and current needs of drivers, practical training and tips on fuel efficiency and handling of hazardous goods are also provided.
Training 'em all
According to reliable sources DTC, which was initially keen to train only the drivers for its low-floor bus fleet, also added the conductors for the training programme after a low-floor bus caught fire on March 30 this year in Mumbai. Now, along with the drivers, conductors too will be adequately informed and trained on the safety aspects of the vehicle. At present, DTC has over 1,000 low-floor buses and plans to acquire a few thousand more in the coming months. Meanwhile, plans are underway to retire the Blueline buses from the fleet due to their poor maintenance levels and poorly-trained drivers. Blueline drivers, it is known, drive rashly and are responsible for the high incident of bus-related accidents in the capital city.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, VR Soni, principal, Ashok Leyland Driver Training Institute in Burari, noted that the commercial vehicle manufacturer has recently gifted a low-floor bus to the Institute for training purposes. “We are now in the process of training DTC drivers and conductors on this new low-floor bus. Earlier we had no other option but to train our candidates on regular buses,” he said.
Soni said that it is mandatory for drivers of heavy duty vehicles to go in for a refresher course before renewal of their licenses. “The Delhi government has recognised four institutes, and DTI is one of them. The courses we offer vary from two days to 42 days. In the two-day refresher course, we re-educate drivers about the Motor Vehicle Act and also ask them to drive for around three-odd kilometres. The fuel saving course teaches them how to derive the best mileage out of a vehicle. For fresh driver licenses, it is mandatory for drivers to attend a 42-day training course. The international norm is 20 hours of driving. For this we start from the basics, teach him the driving rules, and record his driving time among other tests. Once he has cleared them, he is asked to do certain assignments and based on his performance we issue him a certificate,” he added.
It is only after completion of this training course that a driver has to appear for the real test at the respective RTO. “Driving depends on the physical and mental health of a person. Earlier when there were no driver training schools, all training was carried out in a very unprofessional manner,” said Soni.
According to Soni, Blueline bus drivers succumb to stress since most of them have not been taught stress management. “A fresh batch of DTC drivers is going to be trained by us from May 2009 onwards. These drivers are in charge of low-floor buses, where the road clearance is very low. The driver has to be exercise caution and needs to ensure that passengers on these buses, which can also transport physically disadvantaged people, are not put to any discomfort,” he said.
Soni said the training will help drivers handle modern buses better as there is a difference between driving a regular bus and the new low-floor CNG bus. He says the driver of a diesel-engined bus does not feel comfortable driving newer CNG buses because he does not hear the engine at all as it is located at the rear of the vehicle. He is more familiar with hearing the sound of the engine when he steps on the accelerator but now has get used to seeing the rpm meter or the other gadgets on the instrument panel and has to learn a lot more on these modern vehicles, said Soni.
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