A study on Commercial Truck Driver’s Vulnerability in India – Mitigations and Strategies for enrichment of Truck Drivers lifestyle By Dr. P. Senthilkumar* and N. Rajkumar Abstract

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A Study on Commercial Truck Driver’s Vulnerability in India – Mitigations and Strategies for enrichment of Truck Drivers lifestyle


Dr.P.Senthilkumar* and N.Rajkumar**


In recent advancement of technology in transportation engineering, had made the world shrunk where everything and anything can be reached in a shorter turnaround time. This is the fact as everyone can experience that the Indian roadways infrastructure has improved significantly. In this world there is hardly anything which does not involve transportation to reach us, like food grains, fruits, meat, fishes and other finished items. These are being transported through trucks and truck drivers have a major role to play in it. With 6 million truck drivers in India, the trucking industry represents a notable proportion of the labour force (2.5 percent).

It is generally the drop outs from Schools or from the poor families join this profession primarily as a Cleaner and later learn driving to be called as truck driver. However these truck drivers lead a very miserable life. The majority of drivers do not own the truck, they work "on their own" or in an autonomous way on an average of 12.7 hours per day, which has important implications for health and quality of life. They are underpaid and don’t have any proper time for their food and sleep/ rest. These truck drivers are highly dependent on the road side eateries. They drive 400 to 600 Kms per day even taking risk at times with overloaded trucks and poor maintenance of the trucks. The truck drivers are conditioned for external drug stimulant to stay awake for longer journey. The truck drivers’ engage in high risk sexual behaviours making them vulnerable to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD). They are twice as likely to acquire the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and also serve as bridge population linking with the general population.

As we are dependent on these truck drivers for our daily needs, it is the responsibility of the Government and automobile industries as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to create a safer and decent working environment and a social enhancement for the truck driver’s lifestyle in India. Keeping all the above as the context a detailed survey has been done to depict the vulnerable lifestyle of the Indian Truck Drivers. Based on the outcome of the survey various rehabilitation strategies and welfare measures for these truck drivers both in terms of job and infrastructure are being presented in this paper.

Keywords: Truck Drivers, Vulnerability, CSR, Rehabilitation

1. Introduction

This survey paper focuses on vulnerable jobs of the Indian Commercial truck drivers.

*Program Manager, Product Development-Farm Division, Mahindra Research Valley, Mahindra

and Mahindra Ltd, Chennai, India

**Secretary, Society for Education and Entrepreneurship Development, Chennai, India

In this survey actually 106 commercial truck drivers were interviewed. These truck drivers travel an average of about 500 kms max per day. The survey was conducted in 4 locations of India and almost all state drivers equally participated in this survey. This survey was formulated with 33 questions which comprises of personnel data, environmental factors, safety, awareness on sexually transmitted disease, government regulations. Most importantly this paper focuses on the lifestyle of the truck drivers and factors which influence them. Some of the questions were added are about Sexually transmitted diseases and its awareness. Others may be surprised why these questions are being asked to a truck driver. The reason behind this is, truck drivers are in to high mobility on major part of the day and they are away from their families and the truck drivers are spending most of the times in loading and unloading at the docks and there they find an opportunity to get involved among the arrangement groups of prostitutes to quench their personnel likings. Also majority of the truck drivers are prone to high stimulation inhalation of drugs as they have to cover across boundaries carrying tonnes of goods worth lakhs and crores. This is influences the health condition of the truck drivers which deteriorates as time passes.

2. Indian Truck Industry

The Indian trucking sector contributes about 4.5-5 per cent (USD 55-60 billion) of the GDP. However, the sector is plagued the paucity of good-quality highways and expressways. While road freight volumes increased at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.06 per cent and the number of vehicles (all types) on Indian roads increased at a CAGR of 10.13 per cent during the period 1950 -1951/2007-2008, the GDP at market price grew at a CAGR of only 7.35 per cent during the same period, indicating that road freight volumes and the number of vehicles (all types) grew at faster rates compared to the GDP during this period. The total length of roads, on the other hand, increased at a CAGR of only 3.77 per cent during the period 1950- 1951/2007-2008, implying thereby that the growth in roads has not been able to keep pace with the growths in road freight volumes and the number of vehicles (all types) on Indian roads during the same period.

Currently in India 3 million truck drivers are employed for medium and heavy commercial vehicles for the seamless logistics operation throughout India. Some of the Major commercial vehicle manufacturers in India are Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and Eicher Motors. As the competition grew in India among the commercial vehicles, new companies such as Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, Mahindra Trucks, Volvo Commercial Vehicles, Man Trucks, AMW, Force Motors are added to India’s Stable and this is a sure case that the trucking industry in India is growing rapidly.

Now it is left to the commercial vehicle manufacturers to define whether they will be able to help the truck drivers to reduce their day to day difficulties and provide effective remedies with the rapid changing environment. At the industry level, the logistics focus is moving towards reducing cycle times in order to add value to their customers. In order to meet the shortest cycle times, the truck drivers are put on strenuous efforts to deliver the goods at a faster pace and in parallel the consequences in terms risk behaviour faced by the truck drivers are not known to the surface level.

At present the trucking industry faces acute shortage of drivers. As a result the truck industry, which is the backbone of the transport sector and the economy, is in dire straits. There is enough cargo to carry but shortage of drivers has dealt a blow to this hugely unorganised industry, which mainly consists of single vehicle operators.

The truck industry is willing to pay higher salaries to drivers but there are no takers due to harsh working conditions. Often drivers are forced to be behind the wheels for over 15 hours a day as against the mandated 8 hours. There is a stigma in the society towards truck drivers. While bus and taxi drivers command respect in the society, truck drivers do not. In addition, in the past cleaners graduated to become drivers, today no one wants to become a cleaner either.

Five years ago, there was over-supply of drivers, who had to wait in queue for their turn to drive the vehicles. However, today the situation is starkly different, forcing many owners to take to the wheels themselves.

3. Literature Review

3.1 Review of Literature on truck driver’s lifestyle from Africa and comparison with India truck Drivers

Jef Mark (1999), in his paper titled “Long-distance truck drivers' sexual cultures and attempts to reduce HIV risk behaviour amongst them: a review of the African and Asian literature” addressed that long-distance truck drivers have been implicated in the early geographical spread of HIV in the African and Asian epidemics where the driver sexual cultures are poorly described. In his literature on African and Asian truck drivers he had reviewed the driver sexual cultures in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and India. Aspects of driver sexual cultures are compared between Nigeria, where drivers had multiple regular partners at any one time, and India, where most drivers had multiple commercial partners at short intervals.

3.2 Review of Literature about truck driver’s in Nepal

S.R.Niraula et.al (2003), assessed the awareness of long distance truck drivers regarding the STDs and HIV/AIDS in Dharan town of eastern Nepal. Around 429 truck drivers who were registered in the city of Dharan were interviewed through a pre-tested structured schedule. The average age of the drivers turned about to be 37 years and among them 7.1 % were illiterate. 70% of the population knew about HIV/AIDS and 40% knew about STDs. The study also revealed that 21% of them had extra-marital affairs and half of them didn’t use condom.

3.3 Review of Literature about Indian truck drivers

Kartikeyan et.al (2004), did a complete enumeration cross-sectional study to compare social and health profile of truck and tempo drivers in Bhiwandi taluka of Thane District in Maharashtra. The study revealed that the differences in distribution were statistically significant between the two groups as regards education, average monthly income, marital status, religion, habits/addictions and health problems. The frequency of injuries due to road accidents was significantly among the truck drivers.

S Chaturvedi et.al (2006), studied the knowledge of long distance truck drivers about HIV/AIDS and to study the sexual behaviour of these drivers with reference to HIV/AIDS. A Cross sectional study was conducted on Pune - Ahmednagar highway. Age, educational status, sexual behaviour and knowledge were studied among long distance truck drivers. Chi square, mean and SD were calculated and they had found that out of 283 truck drivers 275 (97.2%) were aware of HIV/ AIDS. Though 268 (94.69%) had knowledge of transmission by heterosexual route, knowledge of other routes of transmission was lower. The authors had concluded that safe sex and use of condom has to be energetically promoted among long distance truck drivers.

J A Schneider et. al. (2008) studied the relationships between hygiene, sexual behaviour and HIV infection which are poorly understood. The authors examined these relationships in Indian truck drivers, a group at high risk for HIV infection. Truck drivers (n ¼ 189) were recruited into an integrated HIV and hygiene Information Motivation (IM) programme. Socio demographic characteristics, sexual and hygiene behaviour and HIV prevalence were determined. Multivariate logistic regression and linear generalized estimating equation models were utilized. Personal hygiene habits, like hand washing, seem to be a modifiable behaviour after a modest intervention, whereas HIV risk-taking behaviour was not. The authors suggested that the association between hygiene and HIV risk-taking need for further evaluation of the relationship and that of other hygiene practices in high-risk men in India.

Annie Dude et. al. (2010) conducted a survey in the HIV high prevalence state of Andhra Pradesh by interviewing 189 truck drivers from Gati Ltd. This survey was conducted with collection of blood samples from the truck drivers. Multivariate regression models were used to predict the HIV infection and high risk behaviours. The authors conclude that time away from home; income and marital status were the strongest correlates of genital symptoms for sexually transmitted diseases and high risk behaviours. One more finding was that the low HIV prevalence was observed from the group of married and who visit frequently to their homes.

Arvind et. al (2012) conducted a study on comparison between married to unmarried truck drivers. The study revealed that unmarried truck drivers were significantly more likely to have sex with non-regular female partners (30.2 versus 66.9%, OR: 5.7, 95% CI 3.6-8.9), less likely to use condom consistently with non-regular female partners (50.1 versus 38.8%, OR: 0.7, 95% CI: 0.4-1.1) and more likely to have HIV (3.7 versus 3.4%, OR: 2.7, 95% CI: 1.1-6.5). The study also concludes that unmarried truck drivers have a higher HIV risk behaviour and consequently they were more likely to have HIV than married drivers. Despite of high-risk behaviours, risk-perception remains low among both married and unmarried truck drivers.

Patil et. al (2012) studied the knowledge, attitude and practices of truck drivers regarding HIV/AIDS and to find out the prevalence of unsafe sexual practices in truck drivers. This study was conducted from at 4 districts of Maharashtra namely Aurangabad, Parbhani, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli. Total 850 truck drivers were interviewed at octroi check posts with pretested questionnaire. Results revealed that 404(47.52 %) truck drivers were aware about HIV and heterosexual route as mode of transmission but knowledge about other routes was lower. The author concluded that the truck drivers were at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and have little or no knowledge of AIDS and its spread.

Pandey et.al (2012), in their paper stated that alcohol use has been found to correlate with risky sexual behaviour as well as sexually transmitted infections among populations with high-risk behaviour in India. The study revealed that alcohol consumption was highly prevalent over the illiterate drivers and also had higher nexus to STI than those who did not consume alcohol. Their study concluded that reduction in alcohol or no alcohol consumption has direct correlation to less prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases.

Satish Kumar (2012) in his paper stated that HIV/AIDS is the worst plague the world is fighting today. No one is immune to HIV. But same group are high risk group for HIV infection due to their profession, living conditioned others and among this high risk group for HIV infection the truck drivers are one of main high risk group due to migratory nature of their profession. The author had documented the level of awareness about HIV/AIDS among the truck drivers playing on National- Highway-65 (Ambala-Hissar) in Kaithal district of Haryana. Sixty truck drivers were interviewed for this study on the road side Dhaba near Titram Moar in Kaithal district in Haryana. Results revealed that an over whelming majority about eighty percent of the respondent had heard about HIV/AIDS. 83.3 percent respondent had knowledge about sexual route of HIV infection and 80 percent of the respondent got knowledge about HIV/AIDS from friend. Thus friend circle was the main source of HIV/AIDS awareness. The author suggests that the social worker truck operated union should work together to enhance the HIV/AIDS awareness among truck drivers.

Bhovi RA et. al (2013) in their paper discussed that the long distance truck drivers to ease their loneliness often engage in high risk sexual behaviour by having unsafe sex with fellow crew members or visiting commercial sex workers (CSW). The authors had done a study about the awareness and attitude about HIV / AIDS among long distance truck drivers. The study involved 440 long distance truck drivers who park their vehicles at dhabas near National Highway passing through Bijapur were interviewed. Data was collected using pretested questionnaire.

Prem Kumar SG et. al. (2013) studied to further understand on contact of truckers with existing HIV prevention services and to assess willingness for new HIV prevention strategies. A total of 1,800 truck drivers and helpers aged 16-65 yr. passing through Hyderabad were approached to assess contact made with HIV prevention programmes, history of previous HIV testing and their acceptance for circumcision, oral HIV testing, new medications to control HIV and telephonic counselling. Dried blood samples were collected on filter paper and tested for HIV. Multiple logistic regressions were performed for analysis of association between contact with HIV prevention programme and socio-demographic, sexual risk behaviour variables and work characteristics. The findings showed that truckers had low contact with HIV prevention programmes, suggesting a need for urgent measures to reach this population more effectively. The willingness for new HIV interventions was high except for circumcision. These findings could be used for further planning of HIV prevention programmes for truckers in India

4. Objectives

The main objective of this paper is to,

  1. Identify the lifestyle of the truck driver’s and factors which influence them.

  2. To formulate appropriate strategies for mitigation and enriching the lifestyle of the truck driver’s.

5. Tool Used and Sampling Method

In this survey paper, a specifically developed questionnaire was developed considering the factors like personnel data, environmental factors, safety, awareness on sexually transmitted disease, government regulations.

Interview schedule was planned in 4 locations of India especially in New Delhi, Gujarat, Kolkata and Chennai. The survey was done using event sampling where the truck drivers were passing by the toll plazas, Near Ports etc.

By using Chi-Square test and ANOVA important factors affecting the truck driver’s lifestyles were tested and solution were proposed with strategies and how to mitigate to enrich the truck driver lifestyle

6. Survey Findings

The sample size taken for this survey is 106 commercial truck drivers from 4 locations of India. The survey questionnaire was formulated in such a way to cover all aspects of the truck driver lifestyle which influences him in his day to day activity.

The Survey started with the general introduction and the purpose of the survey was explained upfront to the truck driver. It is observed that major of the truck drivers interviewed were under the age band of 25 years to 40 years and to be specific the majority of the drivers were close to 40 years band. The age distribution of the truck drivers are presented in table 1.

Table 1: Age Profile

Table 2: Geographical Location

Age Interval




< 25 Years




25 Years to 40 years




41 Years to 60 Years




>60 Years








The Marital status data of the truck driver is presented in the table 3. The findings also shows majority of the truck drivers are married. The gap between the unmarried and widower is negligence. We could also interview some of the drivers who got divorced because of their illegal affair with other women.

Education levels of the truck drivers were taken as important factor and it is presented in Table 4. This was considered in order to co-relate with other associated factors which will be presented in the later part of the paper. The distribution shows that 27% of the sample population were below 10th standard and on the other hand it is surprising that 28% were found to be graduates and all these 28% of the sample population got graduated majorly through distance education and few of them were cleaner turned drivers.

Table 3: Marital Status

Table 4: Education Level

Marital Status


Education Level




Below 10th Std




10th Std




12th Std










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