Even though the road transport sector in India is highly unorganized & expensive as compared to rail and water, it is the second highest employment generator after agriculture sector.
When you talk about road transport you cannot ignore the last mile connectivity and backbone of the industry and they are none other than the truck drivers of India who are unfortunately the most neglected part of the industry.
The sector is facing a huge shortage of truck drivers due to which the industry and economy in particular is taking a hit.
As per data by All India Transporter’s Welfare Association (AITWA), current driver to truck ratio is 750 per 1000 vehicle. It was 1300 per 1000 vehicles in 1982, dropped to 890 in 2012 and currently around 30% of vehicles are idle at any given point.
We at Drivers in India tried to understand the issues by meeting fleet operators and truck drivers. This enabled us to understand their pain points and areas where we can bring in the solution.
Let’s deep dive to understand the pain points through feedback which we have gathered so far.
We have around 25,000+ registered truck drivers from India. We are continuously registering and enriching this database.
During our extensive interaction with commercial vehicle drivers at on boarding stage, we enquired and found some common themes which we believe are contributing to shortage of truck drivers in Indian logistics industry.
This the most common feedback we have got from all types of truck drivers driving long haul applications like trailers, tanker, dumper, etc.
They say that on road they often become victims of abuse from locals, authorities & sometimes abused and thrashed too.
An average long-haul truck driver spends 10-12 hours on road each day. Most of the truck drivers face stressful working hours which is affecting their health in negative & long-term manner,
Truck drivers generally ply truck on long routes & returning back to families after extended period of times sometime as long as one year.
Few fleet operators offer them the route which is near to their native place & allow drivers to stay back for a couple of days in their home on return.
But the truth is that not all the drivers are fortunate enough to get this kind of opportunity.
In our observation, we found that truck drivers are very selective for jobs and focus on the condition of vehicle.
Fleet owners who have well maintained vehicles have an advantage over the other in terms of driver retention.
There is another angle to this as well, i.e. a bad maintained vehicle gives less mileage and hence leads to quarrel between operator and driver.
Due to unorganized nature of logistics industry drivers’ salary are highly unstructured and made up of 4-5 different elements.
Fleet operator proclaim that an average long-haul commercial vehicle driver earns in range of Rs. 30-40,000 per month depending upon the route and vehicle.
But the drivers have to rely on unethical practices like fuel selling, avoiding tolls etc. in order to reach the above figure.
The fixed salary of drivers we have interacted with falls in range of Rs. 8-10,000 only per month
Unlike western countries, there is an absence of adequate roadside infrastructure & basis amenities for truck drivers like hygienic good, clear rest areas and bathrooms.
Truck drivers often fail to find secure & safe places to do rest and constantly grapple with the risk of cargo theft and crime.
Due to tedious nature of job and insufficient road side facilities, there is a high risk of occupational hazard and accident related death.
Many insurance companies do not prefer truck driver category for extending life& health insurance.
Truck drivers often report that they are being harassed by RTO and police for no reasons and at times being abused and thrashed as well.
Being most of the time on wheels also bring in all sorts of health issues and accident risk.
Moreover only a few fleet operators offer social security benefits & insurance in a mandated manner to their truck drivers
Due to the above reasons no driver wants to make his son a truck driver or recommend somebody to join this profession.
We read about the pain points of truck drivers. Now, let us understand the general pain points of fleet operators which they face from truck drivers.
Fuel theft is the most common complaint we hear across the board. Also, there are some fleet operators who are accepted this as a industry behaviour and consider it a part of driver salary structure.
There are also certain fleet operators who deduct the driver salary on suspicion of fuel theft.
Due to legacy issues some fleet operators find it very difficult to attract new drivers in their fleets. This has resulted in reduction of fleet sizes and also led to closure of business.
FO’s inability to source new drivers is also leading to loss due to idle truck.
Since most of the drivers don’t have a career path, company benefits, rewards and recognition, loyalty among truck drivers is very low and they switch jobs too frequently without any intimation.
Due to lack of loyalty & reckless behavior by drivers, sometimes trucks are left abandoned at roadside by drivers. This create additional uncertainty and losses for the fleet operator.
Unfortunately, there was no formal way of hiring truck drivers in India till now. Fleet operators need to depend on hiring drivers though reference and guarantors.
The guarantors are those who bring group of drivers whom they usually know personally and place them at fleet operator. However, it is a two-edged sword.
If the guarantor has some dispute with the fleet operator, he takes away all his drivers along with him and the vehicles are left idle overnight incurring huge losses to fleet operator.
Building charm towards the profession:
All the industry stakeholders should contribute to build aspiration and charm around the job though the work has started in this direction.
Tata Motors affirming its commitment towards improving the life of Driver community in India has launched several driver welfare programs and schemes.
Attracting new drivers by improving dignity of profession:
New talent would only enter this profession if sustainable programs are implemented to improve the dignity & respect of Truck driving profession.
Organizing the logistics sector:
Logistics sector as discussed above is highly unorganized.
We have observed that the organized players have less attrition rate and disputes with drivers which results in good brand value among truck driver community.
Improved salary structure:
Current payment structure is highly unstructured and needs a reform so that truck drivers have higher visibility on their monthly take home salaries.
Social security benefits should be a part of drivers’ pay packages as the nature of work is high hazardous. Ministry of labour and employment must step in to lay down the guidelines for this sector.
No harassment from RTO/Police-
The government should step in to stop such kinds of harassments and the concerned person should be dealt strictly if found doing so.
Though, some players like Tata motors have started this project, however more needs to be done in this direction.
Looking to hire truck drivers in India?
We at ‘Drivers in India” have started a project called ‘Desh Ke Saarthi’ where we register truck drivers on our platform who are interested in truck driver job.
We have also on boarded several fleet operators across different applications & routes on our platform for offering jobs to drivers.
We are supported by Tata motors for training of the truck drivers. For more info please get in touch with us.