Maruti Suzuki at the Forefront of Driver Safety

Maruti Suzuki at the Forefront of Driver Safety
Maruti Suzuki at the Forefront of Driver Safety

There has been an increasing focus on ‘driver training’ in India over the years. It is a concern area as road fatalities have not come down in India despite improved infrastructure and policy interventions. In fact, the findings of a MoRTH report are alarming. The report reveals that driver’s fault is the major cause of road crashes in India and speeding alone constitutes 44 % of road crashes. The need of the hour is a higher focus on ‘training the trainer’ at various driving schools towards churning out safer drivers on Indian roads. Maruti Suzuki Limited (MSI) has been at the forefront as far as promoting driver safety is concerned. The company has been operating in this space for the past 18 years – it has set up 7 Institutes of Driving and Traffic Research (ITDRs) in collaboration with state/central governments and has till date trained more than 4 million people across the country.

There is no denying the fact that MSI has undertaken massive efforts for driver safety in the country. Mahesh Rajoria, Senior Advisor – Driver Training, Maruti Suzuki India, said that its basic objective is to create capacity for high quality driver training, set up driving school of global standards and largely focus on ‘training the trainer’ that will pave the way for good, safe drivers as well as promote road safety awareness.

Rajoria also threw light on lack of road discipline in the country and how people were challaned for road violations were asked to sit in two-hour classroom lectures. “The classroom session was an eye-opener for many who later admitted that they wouldn’t have been challaned if they knew of the many things taught in the classroom session,” he said.

He dwelt at length about increasing use of simulators for driver trainer. “Simulator is an excellent device for educating a driver and we use it for novice drivers. Novice drivers are initially hesitant and a simulator helps make him feel comfortable and makes them confident before sitting in the actual car.”

The MSI senior official stated that such training sessions are environment-friendly. “The initial practical classes are taken on machines that do not emit emissions; this simulator is adopted across driving schools and RTOs of the country. We have both light motor vehicle as well as heavy light motor vehicle simulators – our heavy light motor vehicle simulators also have a motion platform. – This particular tool has made Maruti driving school the most preferred training school,” he stated.

He also elaborated on ARITRA – a camera-based image processing technology that enables a trainer to offer on-the-spot feedback about a trainee’s performance and also take countermeasures to address improvement areas. ARITRA can be leveraged for issuing driving licenses and will make the driving license issuing process even more stringent, he added.

Rajoria also dwelt on the HAMS (Harnessing AutoMobiles for Safety) technology Maruti has developed with the help of Microsoft Research India. HAMS uses mobile phone camera and AI-based applications to offer inputs to the trainer and trainee besides tracking the eye movement of the trainee. The HAMS technology apprises whether the driver is wearing a seat belt, talking on phone, maintaining safe distance from other vehicles, following road marking, etc, he noted.

Unlike ARITRA that is based on a defined track in close premises with fixed cameras, the HAMS technology breaks all barriers and can be leveraged on a running road. “You can ask a license seeker with camera fitted to take a ride for 5 kms and come back and then know whether you will get a license or not. Our primary focus is to improve road safety so that people who drive on road respect road laws, respect other road users and drive within safe speed limits so that there are no road accidents, no crashes and deaths on the roads,” Rajoria concluded.