Colour blindness may not remain a bar any more for getting licence to drive private vehicles and those with “mild or moderate colour vision deficiency” may get to drive commercial vehicles too.
The road transport ministry is preparing the draft norms after a panel of ophthalmologists from AIIMS gave its recommendations on this issue. The ministry had referred the case to AIIMS to seek its view after receiving several representations.
Sources said debarring people with colour blindness would impact around 3% population.
Colour blindness or colour vision deficiency is the inability or decreased ability to perceive colour differences under normal light conditions. In India, prevalence of congenital colour blindness is about 8% in males and 0.4% in females. While conducting the study, the AIIMS panel found that European Union has dropped the provision of colour blindness to obtain driving licence while in United States, licences are not issued to such persons for driving commercial vehicles.
Citing international studies, the panel said those with colour deficiency can recognise traffic lights and signs based on multiple sources of information in addition to colour. It said ancillary clues such as luminance, position and pattern can help a colour-deficient driver in recognising traffic lights or signs.
The panel has recommended that there is no need to test colour blindness for licence to drive private vehicles including two-wheelers. It has also said badges, which the state transport departments issue to commercial drivers, can be issued to such applicants, if the deficiency is mild or moderate. In case of serious deficiencies, no badge should be issued. It also said the LEDs of traffic lights can be made friendly for people with colour blindness as per the International Commission on Illumination.
“It is a good step. It will not pose any challenge to road safety. If the applicants pass the practical driving test, which is becoming more automated, there should be no issue. This will also shut another door for corruption,” said Anil Chikkara of Delhi’s transport department.
Ministry officials said the Centre will issue guidelines to states on how to have uniform luminance, position and pattern of traffic lights and signals.