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Truckers in MMR pay bribe of 1,135 for each trip: Study

By Farhan Shaikh, Navi Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2020 12:59 AM IST

A national study focused on truck drivers and road safety claims drivers in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), on an average, pay 1,135 per trip as bribes to traffic and police authorities.

The study also estimated that bribes amounting to 47,852.28 crore were paid to the police authorities by truck drivers across India in 2018-19.

On any given day, each truck driver, on a nationwide average, travelled about 417 km and ended up paying 222 as bribe each day, the report read.

The national study was conducted by Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA) under the SaveLife Foundation — a road safety advocacy organisation.

It covered 10 cities in India, to understand the mental and physical effect on the truck drivers working overtime on low wages.

The bribe amount draining the trucking operations across India was 22,048.20 crore in 2006-07, as per the study.

Truck drivers and fleet owners from Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region were interviewed during the survey for the findings. In all, 84.2% of Mumbai truck drivers said their quality of life has deteriorated over the last 10 years.

In all, 85.8% of truck drivers said they felt unsafe driving in the MMR. The main factors contributing to it were speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or poor design of roads.

“Trucks and lorries have third-highest share of crashes. 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,” said Piyush Tewari, CEO of SaveLife Foundation.

In all, 37.5% of drivers admitted to sometimes driving when sleepy or fatigued while 61.7% said they speed up to finish assignments on time.

When asked for reasons, most drivers cited the nature of perishable products involved in transporting.

Driving while fatigued and sleepy, to avoid challan by the Regional Transport Office and drink driving were the other three major reasons for speeding listed by the drivers.

“The fleet services employing truck drivers need to follow certain norms to self-regulate. Having two drivers so the driver does not drive continuously for more than four hours is advisable. The fatigue may only be for a few seconds, but those are very crucial seconds. The transport associations should come up with self-regulatory mechanisms for safer driving practices,” said AV Shenoy, transport activist.

Shenoy added the enforcement through closed-circuit television (CCTV) challans and technology-armed enforcement authorities will curb corrupt practices.

As per the 2018 data by the ministry of transport and highways, trucks and lorries had the third-highest share of road crashes with over 57,000 cases of crashes including 23,868 deaths. The main factors for the road crashes were either due to speeding or overloading.

Over 57% drivers in MMR said they are asked to overload the vehicles by the consigners, while 28.6% said it overloading translates into more money for them.

The precarious situation not only puts the heavy vehicle drivers but mainly the smaller vehicles including cars and bikes in harm’s way.

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