50% truckers admit to driving when tired, fatigued: Report
Truck drivers drive 12 hours a day on average, covering nearly 417 km, with almost one in two admitting they drive even when tired and sleepy, according to a study conducted by SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF), a road safety NGO, and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M).
According to the survey, truck drivers and fleet owners paid a staggering Rs. 47,852.28 crore (around $ 6.7 billion) per year in bribes in 2019, more than double of the previously reported figure of Rs. 22,048.20 crore in 2006-07, as per a corruption report conducted by Centre for Media Studies and MDRA.
To be sure, all numbers are based on a survey of 1217 truck drivers and 101 fleet owners across 10 cities by Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA).
At least nine out of 10 respondents (93%) confirmed that they receive no social security benefits (such as provident fund, pension, health insurance, life insurance, and gratuity). And around half, 53%, said they earn between INR 10,000 to INR 20,000 per month.
“Truck drivers form the backbone of the logistics sector. They are the most important stakeholders in ensuring smooth transportation of goods over long distances, yet remain vulnerable because of the fragmented and informal nature of the trucking industry. This study reveals that more than half of the respondent truck drivers are dissatisfied with their profession. 84% of the respondents said they will not recommend trucking (as a profession) to their family members or relatives. Two-thirds of the drivers feel the profession is unattractive due to the lack of security and safety on the road,” the report said.
At least 6 out of 10 (62%) respondents said they felt unsafe while driving on the roads.
According to transport ministry’s data , trucks are involved in 12.3% of total crashes and 10% of all deaths according to data from the transport ministry. Truck accidents caused 15,150 deaths in 2018.
The study revealed that truck drivers suffer from health issues such as back ache, joint/muscle pain and gastro-intestinal problems. 95% of respondents said they eat roadside dhaba food. Overall, more than two-third (67.1%) of respondents truck drivers said they are overburdened with assignments, and thus resort to speeding. Worse, 9 out of 10 drivers admitted did not undergo any formal training before getting a driving license and more than 1 in 5 (22%) respondents said they take some kind of drugs during trips.
“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 brings in reforms such as improvements in driver licensing system, recall of faulty vehicles and electronic monitoring & enforcement to reduce corruption,” Gen (retd) VK Singh, minister of state for road transport and highways said.
Almost 90% of passenger traffic and 67% of freight traffic in the country is on roads. Truck drivers play a significant role in transporting India’s freight.
The unorganised nature of trucking prohibits drivers from receiving the kind of benefits their counterparts in other industries do and there is also a shortage of truck drivers in India, the report noted.
There are around two million truck drivers in India, and the driver to truck ratio is 750 to 1000.This means approximately 25% to 30% of India’s trucks lie idle at any given point of time and those employed in the sector are overworked, the study said.
“Even though centre brought in the amended Motor Vehicle Act we are yet to see changes on ground due to the fact that only six-seven states have notified the rules. We expect corruption to reduce once the system is streamlined,” said Piyush Tewari, CEO, Save Life Foundation.