We’ve all been on the road, been stuck in traffic behind a massive truck and seen the familiar “Horn Ok Please” and expressed some discontent: “Why did there have to be truck here?! I can’t even overtake it!”, or “It’s blocking the entire road!”, but how often have we thought about the people in those trucks?
Trucking is a massive profession in any country, and India is no exception. Of the 30-something million vehicles on the road in India, there are roughly 8.5 million trucks, and this forms a solid third of all Indian vehicles. According to various reports by the Times of India and Castrol, approximately 60% of all freight in India is transported by road. For this transport, of the 8.5 million trucks in commission, approximately one in four of these trucks remains idle due to a lack of available drivers for these trucks – 2.7 million trucks, almost 27% of trucks, are lying unused. The number of idle trucks is expected to rise to 50% by the year 2022, but why is this happening?
The answer to that question isn’t too strange, truck driving is a difficult job. This might be an easy statement to throw around, but when investigating one will find that a combination of low pay, respect, and poor quality of life coupled with a high risk of injury, poor job satisfaction and almost no benefits makes this an extremely unpopular avenue for employment – and the statistics agree with this assessment. The number of truck drivers in India has decreased from 900 drivers for every 1000 trucks in the year 2006 to roughly 600 drivers per 1000 trucks in the year 2016-17.
The fact of the matter is that the Indian Logistics industry is a hard space to be employed in, and the trucking industry is particularly tumultuous:
- 25% of truck drivers spent up to eight days away from their home base at time on jobs, this can be severely detrimental to both the physical and psychological wellbeing of the drivers.
- Approximately 50% of truck drivers report facing some sort of health-related issues, while 67% of truck drivers report never having had any medical checkups, as of 2017.
Additionally, the industry habit of loading trucks beyond capacity can severely compromise the road safety associated with driving these vehicles – of the 1,40,000 vehicular fatalities in 2014, 20% involved trucks. This is statistic, though it may be depressing, is not shocking considering the intensity with which truck drivers are expected to work, and with the safety of these trucks being compromised through overloading.
An attempt at improving the quality of life associated with being a truck driver in India can not only reduce fatalities and incidents, but also help create jobs in other sectors, help improve efficiency through better motivated employees and generally improve employee and customer satisfaction.