Aiming to provide better amenities for drivers on highways, the Union government has announced plans to set up 1,000 modern buildings across the country — a move that aims to address the lack of such space for commercial drivers.
The buildings will provide resting facilities along highways for truck, bus, and taxi drivers. A large share of these facilities will be developed by oil marketing companies and the rest by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement on Friday (2 February).
Earlier in June, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had approved a proposal to make it mandatory for truck manufacturers to provide AC (air-conditioned) cabins for drivers.
According to an estimate, the additional expenditure for providing AC cabins in trucks would cost in the range of Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per truck. Volvo and other luxury buses have AC cabins for drivers as well.
Speaking at the Bharat Mobility Global Expo, PM Modi said the new scheme is in the works to develop modern buildings with facilities for food, clean drinking water, toilets, parking, and rest for drivers along the national highways network.
"Drivers are a big part of the mobility sector, those who drive our trucks, taxis. They drive for long hours. They don’t have time for rest. They are also victims of road accidents. We understand these concerns... This (establishing rest centres) will enable drivers to do ‘ease of travelling’...," the Prime Minister added.
The latest road accident data show that in 2022, crashes caused by trucks and lorries resulted in 33,136 deaths and another 10,584 deaths of truck occupants.
It is being learnt that most of these facilities will come up close to the existing and new petrol pumps along national highways and around 300 to 400 will be part of the Way Side Amenities (WSAs) being developed by the NHAI.
Sources said that, though drivers will have to pay for availing these services, the charges would be nominal.
Recognising the problem that drivers face, the Centre’s National Logistics Policy (NLP) has assigned the task of creating adequate resting places for truck drivers to the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.
Unavailability of good resting places is one of the major reasons for illegal and unsafe parking along highways. This also contributes to drivers spending more time behind the wheels.
A study of drivers by a non-profit entity across states found that more than 58 per cent faced fatigue or lack of sleep during trips, which is a major cause of concern.
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