The national road safety month was observed from 18th January to 17th February. In the wake of this, a conversation on truck safety is inevitable. About 15.8% percentage of road accidents are due to trucks.
While the stereotypical reaction of the public is to blame it on the truck driver’s ‘habits’, it’s rarely the case.
The current truck to driver ratio in India is 1:0.6. This means that most of the drivers are overworked. An average truck driver works around 12 hours a day. Sleep deprivation of truckers remains the cause for about 40% of road accidents, according to enforcement officers patrolling the highways and major roads here.
In fact, research revealed that 53 percent of drivers suffer from some health issues; while 23 percent battle lack of sleep, about 18 percent face physical stress and 12 percent mental stress.
Overloading and ill maintenance of vehicles are other causes, with overloading constituting 10% of the total truck accidents.
A sad fact is that most often the truck drivers get blamed for the fault of smaller vehicle drivers. Small vehicles don't take into account the blind spots of the drivers in the huge trucks. The sympathy of the investigator most often goes to the small vehicle driver as they suffer more impact in the accident.
Curbing these accidents needs a joint effort from the side of logistics companies, the government, and the general public.
Logistics companies should strive to provide more work-life balance. Companies need to come together to establish national wide clean ‘rest houses’ for the drivers, where they can get a good night’s sleep and can get access to clean toilets. There should be minimum fixed sleep hours for every driver. At Navata we strictly implement rest hours from 12-5 am. Their trips should be planned such that they can visit home at least once in two weeks.
The government should work on establishing more medical facilities along the state and national highways. The road and the infrastructure around it should be such that they are ‘accident prohibiting’ and not ‘accident facilitating’. Hefty fines need to be charged for overloading and there should be stricter norms and checking for vehicle fitness certificates. Health insurance for truck drivers should be made compulsory.
Underlying all this there is also a social issue around the life of a truck driver. Truck drivers are almost considered an ‘outcast’ by our society. What the public doesn’t realize is that they are doing a very important service and the economy will come to a standstill if not for them.
A truck driver deserves the utmost respect from their society and their job should be considered as ‘cool’ and ‘skilled’ as that of a pilot or a captain of a ship.