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The Case of Vanishing Truckers – India’s Perspective

Recently, petrol pumps across the U.K. ran out of fuel, due to that road transport and other logistics services almost came to a halt.   

If you already think that it’s due to a shortage of fuel reserves in the country, then you’re wrong. 

Technically, there is no shortage of fuel in the U.K.; they have enough of it. The problem stems from the lack of commercial vehicle drivers who ferry petrol and other goods from one point to another. 

Wondering where those truckers got vanished? – Allow me to state some facts.

Some truckers left the country due to Brexit (Britain moving out of the European Union), while others left due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Those who want to return to the workforce are facing travel and visa restrictions.

 If you are asking, why can’t we hire new truck drivers? – There is trouble in signing up because test centres are closed. 

To handle this near-crisis situation, Britain has recalled the retired truck drivers returning to work and extended an emergency visa program for truck drivers to arrest the fuel shortage across the country. 

It may fix the problem as of now, but this is not the complete solution to it. The shortage of truck drivers has been a crisis in the making for the last couple of years, and it’s expected to affect every other country.

The shortage of truckers is not specific to the U.K.; it is a growing crisis in India and other countries.

According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which surveyed 800 road transport businesses across 20 countries, few people enter the commercial trucking sector and work as truck drivers. In some parts of the world, 25% of commercial driving jobs remain unfilled. 

It means some truck journeys to fulfil the supply chain requirement don’t happen at all, or there is a substantial delay in service. 

In the case of perishable goods like fruits and vegetables, there is a complete loss of cargo – resulting in zero profit for producers. Even if the product gets delivered with delay, there is a very minimum shelf-life of those goods. 

This will directly affect the end consumers with a high price on the essential goods with very little supply in the market.

As the economies recover post-second wave of COVID-19 and demand for transport services increases, the driver shortage is expected to intensify in the coming years.  

To understand the reason behind vanishing truckers from Indian roads, let us know the problem they face. 

The case of vanishing truckers

Issues of Truck Drivers in India

Across the world, commercial truckers are a critical node of the supply-chain network. In the case of developing countries like India, it is the backbone of the economy. Though India’s logistics operation is spread across the land, air, and water – road and rail network plays a crucial role. 

According to the SaveLIFE Foundation survey with the support of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M), road transport engages over 90% of passenger traffic and 67% of freight traffic in the country. Therefore, trucking is part of both first mile and last mile operations in the sector. 

Even though they play a substantial role in the economy, their lives are in dilapidated condition. The unorganised nature of the truck drivers makes them vulnerable. It prohibits them from getting a due share compared to other industrial counterparts in financial and social well-being. 

Key Highlights of the Study

  1. Overall, 53% of truck drivers are dissatisfied with their profession. 
  2. About 84% of truckers don’t want to recommend trucking to their family members or friends because it’s not considered a viable career option.
  3. 55% of the drivers rated their profession as “unattractive”, while 7% rated it as “attractive”, and 38% rated it as “neutral”. There feel there is no social reputation of their job in the society. 
  4. 53% of the drivers earn between INR 10,000 to INR 20,000 per month. 
  5. Over 9 out of 10 drivers confirmed that they don’t get any employment benefits other than salary such as provident fund, pension, health insurance, etc. 
  6. More than 93% of truckers are employees. Only 6% (i.e., one out of 15) drive self-owned trucks. 
  7. On average, truckers drive nearly 12 hours a day and cover a distance of 417 km daily. 
  8. Almost 50% of the drivers said they drive vehicles even if they are feeling tired or sleepy. 
  9. 9 out of 10 drivers admitted that they had never undergone formal training before getting a driving license. 
  10. 1 out of 5 truckers said they take some form of drugs while driving. (i.e., 22%)
  11. There is no standard wages, no growth prospect in the industry. It means once a driver, always a truck driver. Unless you change your profession.
  12. Trucks are the third-highest cause of road accidents (31,977) after four-wheelers – car (36,579)and two-wheelers – bike (36, 213).

 

Common Health Issues Among Truck Drivers

Due to irregular work hours and staying away from family due to occupational demand, truck drivers suffer from severe health and psychological issues, often unnoticed. 

In 2015, International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported specific health issues are more prevalent among truckers. 

  • Stress/hypertension
  • Fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Miscarriages
  • Higher cardiovascular pressure
  • Kidney disorders

 

You may ask, who in their right mind would want to drive trucks and go through such adversity?

That’s the point. Only the truckers who could not find the alternative means are the ones who are staying back. 

As the truck driver shortage is expected to increase further in India, we need to take a holistic approach to address this issue. The solution should come from different segments of this sector – Government, trade unions, etc.

The Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Mr Nitin Gadkari, recently pitched fixed driving hours for truck drivers on airline pilots to reduce road accidents due to fatigue.

The policy is said to include onboard sleep detection sensors in commercial vehicles. 

At Vamosys, we provide a range of technology-driven solutions that will address drivers’ issues and bring the symbiotic relationship between truck drivers and fleet owners in the logistics business. 

Some of Vamosys Business Solutions

Driver Tracking System

Tracking your drivers on-road can prove more beneficial in monitoring their behaviour, working hours, location, etc. 

With Vamosys, you enable your drivers with Language agnostic Universal Driver App and empower them to provide accurate trip status and trip expenses instantly. Moreover, all this happens without having to make calls for the entire trip duration. 

Benefits DRS Driver App

  1. Reduced workload for the fleet owner.
  2. Improved communication between the driver and the fleet owner. 
  3. No more paperwork on planning and executing.
  4. Organise, interact and share data digitally.

 

FleetOS - Fleet Management Software

With the growing demand for supply-chain at all levels, managing this growth is a nightmare for the fleet operators due to lack of digitisation, inefficiency in logistics operation, and surging fleet expenses. 

Our FleetOS application will assist in 360-degree fleet management. In addition, our easy to use interface will eliminate inefficiencies caused by human negligence.

Benefits of FleetOS

  1. Create trips and assign drivers.
  2. Track vehicles via GPS and SIM tracking.
  3. Digitise and maintain vehicle records and drivers lists.
  4. Manager all trip-related expenses.
  5. Stay up-to-date about the trip status.
  6. 100% transparency to clients. 
  7. Incentivise truckers for their work.

Given the size of the problem at hand, digitisation of the fleet operation will assist in handling it well. But, to stem the outflow of drivers from the job searching for another career, it is necessary to regulate the industry. 

The governments and business experts must take steps to make it an attractive career opportunity for the future generation.

The industry needs to incentivise the drivers, bring improved pay structure, create a health infrastructure specific to truckers, and make their environment feel safe will attract youths and women to take it up as a  career option.

As the average age of truckers ranges between 40 and 60, this ageing workforce will not last long without going through a structural change.

Until then…

I’m a Content Creator navigating between life, tech (Blockchain & AI) and stories.

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