Eicher promotes need for safer HCV drivers

The film on ‘Safe transportation of hazardous goods’ has bagged an award in the global road safety film competition held in Paris. Earlier, in 2007, Eicher had won the global award for its film on ‘Safe Driving’. The competition was conducted by LASER Europe, a non-profit organisation and member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 04 Feb 2009 Views icon5424 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Eicher promotes need for safer HCV drivers
ln January 2008, a tanker carrying acid on the national highway near Pernem in Goa exploded and gutted a passing tourist bus, killing 11 people. A similar accident in May 2007, near Anand in Gujarat, involving a collision between an LPG tanker and a truck resulted in a parked bus being burnt and killing 28 people. Around eight testimonials pertaining to such tragic mishaps form part of a rivetting and award-winning 12-minute film made by Eicher Motors. The film on ‘Safe transportation of hazardous goods’ has bagged an award in the global road safety film competition held in Paris. Earlier, in 2007, Eicher had won the global award for its film on ‘Safe Driving’. The competition was conducted by LASER Europe, a non-profit organisation and member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration.

A Nandakumar, Head, Customer Service, Eicher Motors, says the prime motivator behind the film was a survey conducted by the Central Road Research Institute, Pune. It revealed that 70 percent of drivers transporting hazardous goods in India are neither aware nor trained in handling procedures and the resultant implications in the event of an accident. Accidents involving these vehicles result in explosions, fires and casualties in big numbers besides being a lethal health hazard through toxic pollutants being released into the environment.

The content of the film was jointly worked out with professionals in the field of hazardous goods transportation and technically validated by the Indian Chemical Council, Mumbai. Some experts were contacted with the help of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Guidance was also sought from companies like Indian Oil Corporation and Castrol as well as apex bodies like the Indian Chemical Council (ICC), which is responsible for formulating all policies on manufacturing and distribution of chemicals.

While the film is made originally in Hindi and also has English sub-titles for a global audience, it is now being dubbed in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. Since the direct beneficiary of the learning provided in this film is the driver, the film is to be distributed among dealers and customers of Eicher and Volvo India, automobile associations, driver training schools run by Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Maruti Suzuki and other private organisations engaged in driver training, State transport commissioners, senior State police officials and also non-profit organisations promoting road safety.

“More than a thousand copies of the film will be distributed. We have around 250 dealers,” says Nandakumar.

Training them all

India has a dubious record in road accidents – the highest in the world – where over 100,000 people die and 400,000 get injured every year. Every six minutes a person dies and four are injured in road accidents.

“Eicher Motors has been actively engaged in road safety for the past 10 years. It all started with a school bus plunging into the Yamuna river where 28 school children died. Eicher chairman Vikram Lal was keen we get involved in driver training and education. We got in touch with the Loss Prevention Association (LPA) formed by four national insurance companies to look into the various road accidents. In association with LPA, which also educates people on ways to prevent such accidents, we designed a driver training programme,” says Nandakumar.

But it was only when Eicher brought out a manual and began conducting a driver training programme, initially for school bus drivers across the country, that it recognised the need to carry out a driver training programme for truck and bus drivers at its dealerships. This resulted in its first film on road safety. Subsequently, the company discovered that 70 percent of the drivers handling hazardous goods were not even aware of the basic knowledge required to transport such goods. “It was quite shocking. So we thought of making a film on this subject and got in touch with experts in this field,” says Nandakumar.

Educating drivers

Eicher now has a task on its hand – to show the film to all drivers in India. According to Nandakumar, burgeoning chemical production in India is leading to a growth in the number of vehicles carrying hazardous goods. “The registration and licensing system in India is not very stringent. So there is a need to create an awareness among drivers on the safety aspect. Vehicles need to carry safety instructions and the drivers themselves need to carry cards that offer safety tips in the event of an accident. There are travel emergency cards that tell what needs to be done in case of an accident. As a large number of CVs in India are in a very poor state of repair, they have to undergo a fitness certification every year. While this is done fairly stringently in South India, there is much laxity in rules in the North,” he claims. The film couldn't have come a day sooner.
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