Status of truck drivers in India
Published On Mar 02, 2020
Truck drivers form the backbone of the logistics sector. They are the most important stakeholder in ensuring the smooth transportation of goods over long distances. Yet they remain vulnerable due to the fragmented and informal nature of the trucking industry. A new report reveals alarming details about the profession.
India tops the world in road crash deaths. In 2018 road crashes claimed the lives of over 1.5 lakh people in the country. Out of this, over 15,000 road crash victims have been truck and lorry drivers. In terms of vehicle category, trucks and lorries are involved in over 57,000 crashes. Other additional factors like overloading and load protrusion increase the exposure to risk for other road users. Despite being a serious traffic offense, overloading of trucks has contributed to 12% of total road crash deaths.
Image courtesy: Shell India
A report published by Savelife Foundation an independent, non- governmental organization committed to improving road safety and emergency medical care across India entered into a partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) to understand both these aspects related to the quality of life and professional hazards faced by truck drivers.
The study uses quantitative research to survey 1217 truck drivers and 101 fleet owners (1318 total) in 10 cities across India. These cities have been selected on the basis of reported crashes caused by HMVs and the number of HMVs in operation and include Delhi-NCR, Greater Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Kanpur and Vijayawada. Qualitative tools including Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with drivers were also conducted. The survey includes 21 In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) with Fleet owners/ Associations and 1 Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with truck drivers among various stakeholders.
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 to their family members or relatives. Two-third of the drivers feel the profession is unattractive due to the lack of security and safety on the road 53% of the drivers earn between INR 10,000 to INR 20,000 per month. Their living conditions are abysmal with no standardisation in wages, lack of social security and incentives to complete a trip on time.
Most drivers do not own their vehicles. They often suffer from driver fatigue due to long working hours. On average, each driver drives for about 11.9 hours in a day. In terms of average distance covered, a truck driver covers about 417 km daily. 49% of the respondents drivers said they drive vehicles even if they are feeling fatigued or sleepy.
The study reveals that truck drivers suffer from various health issues like backaches, joint/muscle pain and gastro-intestinal problems. 95% of respondents said they eat roadside dhaba food. Overall, more than two-thirds (67.1%) of respondent’s truck drivers stated that they are overburdened with assignments, and thus resort to speeding to deliver their assignments on time. 9 out of 10 drivers did not undergo any formal training before getting a driving license.
Exploitation and corruption by enforcement authorities clubbed with the poor condition of road infrastructure makes truck driving a challenging profession. One of the most important objectives of the study has been to quantify corruption in the trucking industry. The study estimates Rs.47,852.28 crore per year as the bribe amount in the trucking business at present. Through this study, we aim to shed light on the status of truck drivers in India and hope to offer relevant recommendations that will make their lives better and safer.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE REPORT
-Overall, 53% of respondents are dissatisfied with their profession
-About 84% of the respondents said they will not recommend trucking to their family members or relatives
-53% of the respondents said that they earn between INR 10,000 to INR 20,000 per month.
-Over 9 out of 10 respondents (93%) confirmed that other than salary/wages, they do not get any social security benefits (such as provident fund, pension, health insurance, life insurance, gratuity, etc.)
-More than 93% of the respondents work as employees. Only about 1 in 15 (6%) of the respondents drive self-owned trucks.
-More than 6 out of 10 (62%) respondents felt unsafe while driving on the roads.
-At present, Rs. 47,852.28 crore (approx. 6.7 billion USD) per year is the estimated bribe amount in the trucking operations. This is higher than the reported figure of Rs. 22,048.20 crore in 2006-07
-9 out of 10 respondents confessed they did not undergo any formal training before getting a driving license
-On average, respondents drive for nearly 12 hours in a day and cover a distance of 417 km daily.
-Almost 50% of the respondents said they drive vehicles even if they are feeling fatigued or sleepy.
-More than 1 in 5 (22%) respondents said they take some kinds of drugs during trips.
Truck drivers are an important part of the transport eco-systems and the long-term success of the logistics industry depends on steady supply of good drivers. This is also necessary to make Indian roads and highways safer. However, to address this complex issue a multipronged strategy involving the government, transport authorities and fleet-truck owners is necessary, Equally important is the stricter enforcement of road and traffic law and rigorous driver training infrastructure in the country is must.