With Himachal Pradesh government initiating a process to install meters in all taxis, a road safety expert has demanded GPS-enabled fare meters to ensure passenger safety in the hill state.

Addressing media persons, road safety and sustainable transport expert Kamal Soi expressed concern over implementation of Rule 109 of HP Motor Vehicles Act (HPMVR), pertaining to taxi meters.

He questioned the manner in which meters were being installed in taxis plying across the state, claiming that it was in violation of BIS norms. “Fare meters should be digital and must be integrated with GPS device,” he remarked, adding that not doing so would reflect government failure in implementing modern technologies, in violation of Rule 109 of the HPMVR.

A former vice chairman of Punjab Road Safety Council, Soi alleged that the government decision was compromising public safety in a state which depended largely on income from tourism.

He feared fare meters being sold at variable rates in different regions. Moreover, the types of devices would vary from basic digital fare meters in quality, workmanship and may not conform to basic standards. He further stated that without GPS-based meters it would be difficult for the Transport Department to check whether vehicles were actually charging correct fares. That would severely dilute the objective of using taxi fare meters. Also, the government would not be in a position to fix answerability on manufacturers not following prescribed procedure, he claimed.

The road safety expert felt that GPS-enabled digital fare meters would serve the purpose of safety and security, both of passengers and drivers.

Emergency buttons (panic buttons on device) would enable passengers to send SOS messages to a predefined server location and sound a siren for alarm.

“Considering the terrain which makes Himachal Pradesh accident-prone, it is pertinent that the government takes steps to ensure safety of the. A GPS enabled digital fare meter would aid in locating the vehicle at all times, thereby enabling the law enforcement agencies to locate the whereabouts of the place of accident,” he concluded.