Nearly half of the respondents fatigued while driving; one in five admit to using drugs

SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF) today released a nation-wide, multi-city research report on the working conditions and safety status of truck drivers along with other factors impacting road safety of truck drivers and other road users in India.

The study conducted in partnership with Mahindra and Mahindra covered over 1200 truck drivers and over 100 fleet owners as respondents and was conducted across 10 transportation hubs in India – Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Kanpur, and Vijayawada.

According to the findings of the report, on average, respondents drive for about 12 hours a day, with almost 50 percent of them driving continuously, even if they feel fatigued or sleepy. Overall, one in five respondents admitted to taking some kind of drugs during trips. The proportion of such respondents was highest in Kolkata followed by Kanpur and Delhi NCR. In all three cities over half of the respondents confirmed driving under the influence of drugs.

The study revealed that 53% of the drivers were dissatisfied with their profession due to low and irregular income, harassment from officials and unscheduled working hours. Health problems like severe backaches, joint/muscle/neck pain and stomach problems and lack of social security also contributed to their dissatisfaction.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Mr.  Vijay Nair, VP- Admin & CSR, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, said, “While there have been many initiatives to raise awareness and safety of truck drivers in India, this study points at important gaps that need to be addressed to improve the status of truck drivers in India. Truck drivers are the lifeline of road freight transport in India and it’s important to address the challenges faced by them. Through this study and our partnership with SaveLIFE Foundation, we aim to bring forth strong evidence to bring attention to this issue and we are optimistic of this making an impact”.

While the majority of truck drivers reported feeling unsafe on roads, very few of them felt that they themselves engage in unsafe driving or unsafe practices.  In order to get away with the situation where they are caught flouting rules, respondents admitted to paying bribes.  About 49% of the respondents who were caught with protruding load admitted to paying a bribe to get out of the situation.

Hon’ble General (Dr) VK Singh (Retd), Minister of State, Road, Transport and Highway, said that “The report highlights some very pertinent issues in the trucking industry that lead to unsafe roads for both drivers as well as road users. The Central Government is taking a number of initiatives to improve the condition of road safety in the country. The new Motor Vehicle Act increases brings in reforms such as improvements in driver licensing system, recall of faulty vehicles and electronic monitoring & enforcement to reduce corruption. I would strongly urge all the states and solicit their cooperation in implementing the amended act.

Since the freight through trucks is going to grow in future, we need to ensure safer roads for all. We’re also looking at creation of training schools – mainly in rural and backward areas to educate the fleet owners and truck drivers on road safety. “The findings of the study highlighted that corruption clubbed with the poor condition of road infrastructure makes truck driving a challenging profession. The study estimated that currently, Rs 47,852.28 crore (6.7 billion USD) per year is the estimated bribe amount in the trucking operations.

Adding to this, Mr. Piyush Tewari, CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation said, “If we analyze the road crash statistics specific to the trucking sector, we see a big dichotomy. Even though trucks and lorries have 3rd highest share of crashes in terms of impacting vehicles killing over 23000 people; amongst road-user categories, trucks/lories again make up third-highest share of deaths killing over 15,000 drivers every year. Through this study, we aim to understand the reason behind unsafe driving practices by truck drivers as well as structural and other reasons which push them to compromise their safety as well as safety of other road users”

In Delhi, about 58% of the respondents reported a deterioration in their quality of life in the last 10 years and 73% of the respondents in Delhi stated that the workings conditions are bad. When asked to report the key health-issues faced during trips, almost 96% of them reported back aches while 64% reported headaches/dizziness. More than half of the respondents in Delhi admitted to consuming drugs while on a trip. Almost 84% of the respondents in Delhi-NCR admitted to paying bribe to traffic/highway police as compared to nearly 67% of the respondents nationwide.

 About SaveLIFE Foundation:

SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization fighting to reduce India’s extremely high number of road crash deaths. SLF combines strong research including onsite crash investigation with interventions across policy advocacy and on-ground interventions to save lives on India’s roads. SLF is best known for its work to get India a Good Samaritan Law and for reducing road crash deaths on the Mumbai Pune Expressway by 30 percent within two years of partnering with the Government of Maharashtra to adopt the corridor. Over the next few years, SaveLIFE Foundation will continue to advocate for system-level changes as well as investing in engaging citizens and governments real-time through technology platforms, training programs and its flagship “Vision Zero” projects.