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Mumbai: Tech to rouse drowsy drivers coming soon

11:52 PM Jun 14, 2021 | Shashank Rao

Mumbai: On the anvil is software that could save the lives of motorists who are so exhausted that they are nodding off at the wheel, endangering themselves as well as others on the road, as a result. The transport department is in the final stages of developing software to detect driver fatigue, which officials plan to demonstrate to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray by the end of this month. The initiative took wheels after Thackeray had alluded to such technology at the Road Safety Week in January.

According to transport department officials, they are working on the technology with assistance from private blue-chip software companies. On Monday, State Transport Commissioner Avinash Dhakne confirmed the news and informed Thackeray about the same.

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“It is in the development stage. It will be based on artificial intelligence, camera, and sensors which will detect eye and face movements and will start giving alarms if the driver is feeling sleepy,” Dhakne told The Free Press Journal.

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Sources in the transport department said work on the project had been going on for the past few months and they were likely to make a presentation to the CM by the end of June. Earlier this year, at a Road Safety Week event, Thackeray had spoken about new technology that alerts tired drivers if they are falling asleep at the wheel and had expressed the wish to examine such a vehicle, if it were available.

If this software is approved, motorists can instal them in their vehicles or vehicle manufacturers could be asked to instal them in vehicles at the time of manufacture. Road transport experts and those who work on reducing road accidents claim that it will go a long way towards preventing accidents.

“During night hours, there is a substantial number of road accidents owing to human error; driving while feeling drowsy is one of them,” said an expert.

In 2020, there were 25,456 road accidents and 11,452 road fatalities in Maharashtra, one of the three states that have reported the highest number of deaths in road accidents. The number of road accidents were 32,876 in 2019, as compared to 35,717 in 2018. Likewise in 2019, road fatalities across the state were 12,565 as compared to 13,261 deaths in 2018.

On Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told the transport department that proper tests should be conducted for those applying for a learner’s licence even though it has now gone online. “At least 15 lakh people annually apply for learners’ licences in Maharashtra and now, they need not come all the way to take the test and apply for these. The government will also save Rs 100 crore from this,” said Transport Minister Anil Parab.

Now, aspirants can apply for a learner’s licence from home, by taking an online test, using Aadhaar-based authentication. Also, citizens or vehicle dealers can register their respective non-transport vehicles without having to physically visit the RTOs. To apply for a learner’s driving licence in Maharashtra, aspirants can watch a few online videos on road safety on the website of Union ministry of road transport and highways and opt for the learner’s license test on the website. An aspirant must correctly answer at least 60 per cent of the questions on the test, to be eligible for a learner’s licence, which will then be emailed to the applicant.

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