In light of the rising numbers of crimes associated with public transport, there has emerged a pressing need to take some action in order to ensure the safety of passengers.
After the incident in Delhi in 2012, the Indian Road Transport Ministry finally realized the necessity for safety measures to protect passengers, especially women.
The Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry issued a mandate to install Vehicle Location Tracking (VLT) devices and emergency panic buttons in all existing public transport vehicles.
While the original deadline set for this task originally was April 2018, many states were unable to meet this deadline. To ensure the enforcement of the rule, the transport department decided to employ these rules for the new vehicles too.
The department released a notice announcing that: installation of the “AIS140 vehicle tracking system” and an emergency button is mandatory for all new vehicles starting from January 1, 2019.
This is applicable for all vehicles that fall under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989; meaning that auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws are exempted from it.
Enforcing the Mandate
To ensure that the new rule is enforced properly, the ministry declared that installation of the GPS tracking system and the panic button is utmost necessary to obtain a fitness certificate or vehicle registration from a Road Transport Office (RTO).
The RTOs were requested to ensure that the vehicles are complying with these rules before issuing any certificate.
This will be done with the help of the “AIS-140 National Vehicle Tracking Portal” developed by the BSNL, enabling the offices to check the compliance.
The portal has been designed to capture the details of the VLT device, the number of the vehicle and the chassis, which can be then integrated with the ‘Vahan’ portal or vehicle tracking portal.
As for the existing vehicles, many States wrote to the Ministry asking for an extension on the deadline. Thus, the Ministry left this task on the shoulders of the respective States to get the installations done at the earliest.
Ensuring Passenger Safety
The AIS 140 has been designed to ensure the safety of the passengers, especially the women and children, by enabling the authorities to act quickly in the event of an emergency.
Once the details of the VLT system have been integrated with the Vahan system, the state will be able to monitor the location and the movement of the vehicle. This will also allow the state to receive over-speeding alerts.
In the event of an emergency like an accident or harassment, the passengers can simply push the panic button on the vehicle. This will alert the authorities with the location of the vehicle immediately.
Subsequently, they will be able to take action and ensure the safety of the passengers. This will also make the passengers traveling alone feel safer, knowing that their vehicle is being tracked and the panic button will help them if any unexpected situation arises.
This will also keep the road safety in check by curbing over-speeding instances.
Further, the vehicle owners will need to ensure that the devices are in a good working condition and send data to the backend system regularly. They will also have to get their devices tested every year to ensure its conformity.
While this is a great step to establish passenger safety, like every other initiative, it also has its own set of challenges. The ministry’s decision to leave the task on the shoulders of the State departments to install these devices, without a deadline, has resulted in huge delays.
Many experts believe that the installation of the gadgets isn’t merely enough. They say that the devices won’t be able to guarantee safety unless a proper infrastructure is in place to track the vehicles and to attend the emergency calls. Further, a team must be regulated to attend to the emergency calls quickly and efficiently.
What is another growing cause of concern is the fact that not all states have actively adopted the installation of these devices. Due to this, some states have a tracking system in place while others do not.
Sometimes, a State with a tracking system in place will not be able to track vehicles coming in from other states, if they are not equipped with the VLT. This is why it is necessary that all states adopt this technology simultaneously and quickly.
While the transport department has taken a step in the right direction, it will have to enforce its adoption more aggressively. When fully operative, this will go a long way in curbing public transport crimes and accidents and guaranteeing the safety of the passengers.
GPS Tracking will also play a huge role in improving road safety, keeping the drivers in check.