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How India Can Improve Its Trucking Industry

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India’s top selling brand of trucks, Mahindra, launches the new Furio 7 range of light commercial vehicle (LCV) trucks.  Its new line boasts of world-class design, excellent engineering, and safety features. In a country where trucks cause a little over 12% of road accident fatalities, this is welcome news. One of the common reasons attributed to motor vehicle accidents is the poor condition of trucks on the road. In addition, deplorable working situations and absence of health insurance also contribute to the rate of road accidents in the country.

A Country That Relies on Trucks to Move Goods

According to the Economic Survey of 2018-2019, trucks are responsible for 69% of the freight traffic in the country. From fuel to food, moving products by road using trucks has overtaken shifting cargo by rail. Truck drivers play a critical role and remain the backbone of the industry. Unfortunately, frequent truck accidents occur on India’s roads causing destruction to property, fatalities, and deaths. Can I sue a truck driver? is one of the most common questions asked by victims of road accidents in the country. The bad news is it is not as straightforward as seeking damages from the person who caused the accident.

In India, trucking companies are responsible for picking up goods and delivering them to the customers. They are also liable for cargo loss and damage claims. Although they own a fleet of trucks, they may also outsource their needs through brokers. Brokers and agents act as intermediaries between a truck company and private truck owners. The latter typically own less than 5 trucks and the vehicles are driven by family members or hired drivers. Hence, accountability and liability can be established by determining who employs the truck drivers. However, often the lines are blurred because there are several causes of truck accidents. One of the reasons is that drivers are paid poorly, work long hours without breaks, and have no health or social care. In addition, the design and maintenance of Indian roads is poor making them hazardous for truckers. Plus, maintenance and repair of trucks is not always done. Often, these activities are carried out in unorganized sectors such as the road side while large fleet operators have their own workshops or garages. Others including trucking companies take advantage of annual maintenance contracts offered by manufacturers.

Interventions to Make the Industry Efficient

To be efficient, the trucks must be able to pick up and deliver their goods quickly. Using updated vehicle technologies, vehicles can speed up their operations. For example, a lot of trucks are now fitted with global positioning system (GPS) devices making it easier to plan and drive routes. Technologies such as crash imminent braking, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and rear-view camera, to name some drastically improve road safety and reduce accidents. Limiting the age of vehicles and the use of better fuel are also strategies that can make the sector competitive and sustainable because of a better environmental impact.

Trucking companies and owners will also benefit from providing driver training and licensing, undertaking strict vehicle maintenance, and offering fair wages to their drivers. On the part of the government, streamlining their role as enforcer of the law through keeping checkpoints at a minimum or removing them altogether can reduce delays or minimize movement inefficiencies.

The bottom line is the trucking industry in India has problems and issues. However, they can be resolved by removing barriers such as checkpoints, streamlining/computerizing government operations, updating trucks, driver training, and regular vehicle maintenance.

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