Left-hand drive cars a G20 concern for Delhi traffic police
Section 120 of the Motor Vehicles Act mandates that all vehicles on Indian roads have the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car
Delhi Traffic Police is expecting a unique problem during the G20 leaders summit in the city in September — 100 left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles.
While the police is willing to overlook the illegality — it is illegal to drive LHD vehicles in India — they believe that the operational challenges of LHD vehicles cohabiting roads with right-hand drive (RHD) ones are significant.
Some of the LHD vehicles will be brought in by some G20 member countries; India’s external affairs ministry has also brought some, to ferry the leaders.
Surender Singh Yadav, special commissioner of police (traffic), said G20 dignitaries will travel from their respective hotels — 25 in Delhi and three in Gurugram — to the main venue, Bharat Mandapam at Pragati Maidan. They are also expected to visit Raj Ghat.
“They will travel under protocol with security. So, the traffic will be restricted at some points for a few minutes till their cavalcade passes through . However, the decision about complete closure of traffic around the main venue, Rajghat and their hotels is still under consideration. The call will be taken only after the final rehearsal,” Yadav said.
Among G20 countries, only India, Australia, Japan, South Africa, and UK use RHD vehicles, while the remaining use LHD ones.
A senior Delhi Police officer who asked not to be named said that at least three countries , the US, Russia and China, have informed security agencies that they would prefer to ship in their own LHD vehicles. “Their vehicles will soon reach India. Besides, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has purchased around 50 LHD bullet-proof Audi cars from Germany and these will reach India in a week or two,” the officer said.
Though drivers with the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have been trained to steer the LHD cars, traffic police officials said they were considering closing some stretches for local cars to prevent a mix-up.
“Around 50 professional drivers with the CAPF have been trained to drive LHD vehicles. So, driving them will not be a problem. But the movement of LHD and RHD cars simultaneously on the same road will definitely be an issue. We are trying to sort it out,” added Yadav.
The unnamed police officer cited above said Delhi Police have bought around 500 new vehicles, equipped with high-tech security gadgets, to provide protection to foreign dignitaries attending the summit. “But all of them are RHD vehicles,” the officer said.
Another Delhi Police officer, who also asked not to be named, pointed out that Section 120 of the Motor Vehicles Act mandates that all vehicles on Indian roads have the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. “This is because India drives on the left side of the road. The use of LHD cars is not permitted in India as they can cause visibility issues and make it difficult for the driver to overtake other vehicles safely, which can lead to accidents and pose a risk to public safety. Therefore, all vehicles in India, including cars, trucks, and buses, must have their steering wheel on the right-hand side to comply with Indian regulations.”