“Driving Trucks is Tough, Very Tough”– Sangram Singh on IRT Journey
Published On Nov 28, 2016
History TV18’s show Ice Road Truckers (IRT) has proved that truck driving is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Yet, many of us do not respect the people involved in the business. The Indian chapter of IRT titled India’s Deadliest Roads features Sangram Singh, Mandira Bedi and Varun Sharma who drive BharatBenz trucks on some of the toughest terrians in India. We spoke to Sangram Singh about his experience of truck driving and tried to decode how he feels for truck drivers in India.
How was your experience of driving trucks on some of the world’s toughest roads?
Truck driving is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Initially, I looked at it as a piece of cake. I told myself that I along with Mandira and Varun will have a lot of fun. But it was only when we started driving that we realized how difficult driving trucks can get. But yes the experience was adventurous and beautiful.
Do you think truck driving is a dangerous profession?
Definitely, it is. Maneuvering trucks over roads that show no mercy is of course life threatening. I learned that there is absolutely no room for error, even a small skid of tyres can take your life away.
What adds to the misery is the fact that you have to make the delivery in time no matter what. You don't get proper food, no proper rest and yet you try to help people in remote areas with essential commodities. I salute trucks drivers as they do a commendable job despite all the hardships they go through.
Did you find yourself in a better position to drive these mega trucks as compared to other co-stars because of your muscular strength?
I always knew that my physical ability will help me in most of the challenges we will face during the journey. But what really turned out to be great was my body's ability to withstand low oxygen levels. My exercise routine normally circles around core and breathing exercises and I must say that the habit really worked out for me.
Do you think truck drivers in India don’t get the respect they deserve for the dangers they go through?
Everyone, starting from the common man to the taxi operators in the country abuse truck drivers every now and then. A lot of them think of trucks drivers as inferior beings, we always forget that these are the people who really are behind most of the commodities we consume in our daily life.
I see them as Army Jawans standing on the border. Soldiers and truck drivers both form the backbone of the nation, while the former protects us from enemies, the latter after farmers, make sure our plates are full all the time.
What was the most difficult challenge you faced while driving trucks?
Every challenge up there was equally difficult and judging one as the most difficult will not do justice to what we went through on the journey. However, to start with, maneuvering trucks on roads that sometimes appear small even for cars was the first difficult task that we faced. Secondly, we started choking with higher altitudes and it became quite a task to drive and keep your cool at the same time. I mean you are already stressed about making deliveries on time and less oxygen all of a sudden really takes a toll on your thinking capability. Everything in the journey was 'most' difficult but I enjoyed them all a lot.
You drove BharatBenz trucks, how good do you think they are?
They are a class apart from other trucks. I drove other trucks while preparing for the show and can say that the ones from BharatBenz are very agile. They offer handsome power while climbing and excellent control on declines. I felt safe in the truck all the time, and this was the first time where I learnt that even trucks come with power steering and power windows. There was a little problem in the second gear but I personally feel BharatBenz trucks do not lag in power and will prove to be a game changer for the Indian truck drivers.
What was your family’s reaction on knowing you were going to drive trucks on some of the most deadly roads?
I did not tell my family about the show for a long time. But when I did, my mom got angry and furiously said, "Was it the only thing left in the world for you to do.” Payal on the other hand requested me not to participate in the show. She has seen some episodes from the earlier versions of the show and was very scared for me. I told her that this is the right opportunity for me to face my fears and she agreed reluctantly. My family scolds me every time they watch a new episode. But I know they are all proud of me.
Any comment on self-driving trucks? Is India prepared for such kind of change in near future?
I do not know enough about self-driving trucks and their future in the country. But would definitely say and request everyone to innovate in a way that doesn’t eat other jobs. We should all work for the betterment of humanity and restrain from doing things that may hurt the livelihoods of millions of people.
If you were to drive trucks for the rest of your life and transport essential goods to people living in remote corners, will you do it?
It is difficult imagining driving trucks for the rest of my life. But I would not back away from doing it, if it meant good for the people. In fact, I will also plan other things I can do for the humanity, along with truck driving.
Your favourite moments while shooting for the Ice Road Trucking show for Bharatbenz?
The whole journey filled me with splendid and beautiful experiences. But there was this incident that happened on our way to Taglang La that captured my heart and mind. I was driving on a neat patch of road when some wild horses started running with my truck, their beauty made it difficult for me to concentrate on the road. It was indeed an experience that cannot be explained in words.
Do you think online portals dedicated for trucks, for example TrucksDekho, can change the future of the trucking industry?
The world of internet is expanding geometrically. Online portals are really helping people choose the best between the options available in the market. Trucksdekho.com has done a commendable job so far and I believe the day is not far when it will cater to almost all the truck owners working in India. I will also love to see an Indian brand such as TrucksDekho to make its mark in the international market as well.
Any message that you would like to give to people involved in the profession of truck driving?
I would like to use this platform to request fleet owners to treat truck drivers in a better way. They deserve a lot more than we can possibly imagine. I would also request my driver brothers to take it easy on the road, carry healthy food and have complete rest. They should always bear in mind that their families depend on them.