The State seems to have finally taken note of the fact that bus drivers in the city are notorious for rash driving and regularly breaking traffic rules. In a bid to improve the driving skills of these drivers, especially those behind the wheels of BEST and school buses, the drivers will be trained on a driving simulator for buses.

High-tech: A simulator which will be inaugurated during the nation-wide campaign undertaken by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways from January 2, 2013. PIC/Bipin Kokate

This is being done as a part of the Road Safety fortnightly campaign. The Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) has bought a simulator for Rs 25 lakh from a Mumbai-based company. The simulator is undergoing last moment improvements in its software and hardware at Churchgate and will be inaugurated during the nation-wide campaign undertaken by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways from January 2, 2013.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan — who also holds the Transport portfolio — and other higher-ups from the State Government are likely to inaugurate this simulator.

It comes equipped with a video projector above its hood that displays the nature of roads and other conditions like turnings, steep curves, traffic signals, wet roads, obstructions — people and animals, bumps, potholes, dense vehicular traffic among others. The driver’s driving skill will be screened under these circumstances for a minimum of five weeks before actually allowing him to drive a vehicle.

“We are in talks with the Transport department and BEST so that this driving simulator can be put to good use by drivers,” said V Shah, a member of WIAA.

Officials claim that presently, there are limited avenues to train these drivers, especially those driving school buses. “Quite often schools appoint bus drivers with minimum driving experience and skill. It is very important to train them as they carry young children,” said a RTO official. There are nearly 12,000 BEST bus drivers and just few thousand school bus drivers.

Talks were on between the WIAA and School Bus Owners’ Association — that provides buses and drivers to various schools in the city — and it has been agreed upon that the school bus drivers will be sent to the training center every Saturday and Sunday wherein they will be given an hour-long training. Each batch would have around 30 drivers.

Regular meetings are being held among officials from the Transport department, Mumbai Traffic Police and WIAA on various issues like tackling drunk driving, traffic policing and eye-checkups. “It is a good initiative to start with. We are also undertaking several activities as part of the campaign,” said VN More, Transport Commissioner.

Earlier this year, the Transport department had installed a similar driving simulator for cars at Tardeo RTO, which was also bought by WIAA for Rs 14 lakh. However, the kit simply remained inside a closed room at the RTO and finally was returned to WIAA for fear of it being stolen.

>> Training in critical driving conditions
>> Training for impaired users
>> Analysis of the driver's behaviour/response
>> Analysis of the user's performances
>> Evaluating user performances in different conditions (handling of controls)

Rash driving cases

Cases: 6,212,
Fines collected: Rs 10.97 lakh

Cases: 7,396
Fines collected: Rs 13.55 lakh

Cases: 8,013
Fines collected: Rs 12.93 lakh

2012 (till Nov 30)
Cases: 2,825
Fines collected: Rs 4.61 lakh

Cases: 17,841
Fines collected: Rs 27.27 lakh

Cases: 18,929
Fines collected: Rs 29.47 lakh

Cases: 10,766
Fines collected: Rs 1,7.35 lakh

2012 (till Nov 30)
Cases: 725
Fines collected: Rs 1.19 lakh