An alarming 50 per cent of the 6,000 highway drivers tested had vision defects, a major cause of concern in a country which accounts for about 11 per cent of the total global road crashes, a top official said on Wednesday.
The government is trying to address the neglect of health by drivers, especially commercial operators on highways, Road Transport and Highways Secretary Yudhvir Singh Malik said.
"NHAI organised at its toll plazas a three-day eye testing camp. 6,000 drivers registered for that. 3,000 of them were distributed spectacles," he said.
"And you will be shocked to know that a 1,000 of them had a number of two plus and were driving without spectacles... without glasses," Malik said at 'Safe Road Safe Life' event organised here by industry body Assocham.
Taking a cue from this, he said, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is not only facilitating health check up camps, but every camp is keeping glasses with power number 1.75 to 2.5 immediate distribution.
Besides, Malik said that it is only in India that a person, till a few years ago, could acquire driving licences without appearing before the authority and hold multiple licences.
In contrast, in countries like the UK, it is a rigorous process and people celebrate getting a licences like when graduating, he added.
He said driver training institutes will have to play a major role in terms of enhancing and building up the driving capacity, and the new Road Safety Bill will have a provision that if one has a training certificate from one of the accredited driving schools, one will not be required to appear before a driving licensing authority.
Malik said the major cause of accidents in case of long-haul commercial driving is due to fatigue and sickness.
"We have identified along national highways 183 sites where we are immediately taking up development of wayside amenities of which 15-20 are proposed to be only for truckers," he added.
On driving concerns, he said people especially in Delhi excelled in not following the traffic rules and expressed hope that the new Road Safety Bill will get Parliament nod soon. The Bill proposes hefty penalty for violation of traffic rules.
"We have five lakh accidents, 1.5 lakh deaths... Any country which constitutes about 10 to 11 per cent of the world fatalities is the biggest concern at the international level. It is really an area which needs to engage the attention of all the stakeholders," Malik added.