When it comes to road safety, India is amongst the nations with the highest fatality rates. In fact, as per official data, more than 150,000 people lose their lives, while more than 450,000 people get injured in road accidents every year. This is a horrifying 415 people dying every single day in India due to road crashes.
While it is hard to put a number to an individual life, the social-economic losses from accident deaths are equivalent to a shocking 3.14 percent of GDP every year. Almost 70 percent of the road-crash-related deaths in India are in the 18 to 45 age group.
Of all vehicle segments, trucks account for 21 percent of all road fatalities in the country. Last year, SaveLife Foundation, an NGO dedicated to road safetyin India released a nation-wide, multi-city report on the working conditions and safety status of truck drivers along with other factors impacting safety of truck drivers and other road users.
According to its findings, on an average, truckers drive for about 12 hours a day, with almost 50 percent of them driving continuously, even if they feel tired or sleepy. Overall, one in five respondents admitted to taking some kind of drugs during trips. The study revealed that 53 percent of the drivers were dissatisfied with their profession due to low and irregular income, harassment from officials and unscheduled working hours. Health problems like severe backaches, joint / muscle / neck pain and stomach problems and lack of social security also contributed to their dissatisfaction. While the majority of truck drivers reported feeling unsafe on roads, very few of them felt that they themselves engage in unsafe driving or unsafe practices.
“Having been a trucker for most of his life, my father and his hardships was the inspiration behind this endeavour. He spent hours on the road with no safety, insurance or communication with his family. The life of a trucker in India is hard, dangerous and marginalised. When I joined the company nine years ago, I made it a point to go on the road and actually experience the issues drivers face as it is impossible to predict sitting in an office. Moreover, 400 accidents with a majority on national highways, go unheard or unnoticed is not a statistic I am comfortable with. I was motivated to create a safety app that addresses issues in real time while bringing the instances of road accidents to zero,” says Jehaan Kotwal, co-founder, HumSafer Driver Safety Foundation.
The Pune-headquartered HumSafer Foundation has now launched a mobile-based app that motivates truck drivers to follow safe driving habits but with an incentive. For every 10km of safe driving, the app will credit Rs 1.50 through UPI to the trucker. Clearly, a good incentive to motivate truck drivers to cultivate a habit of safe driving.
Sumedh Mane, co-founder, HumSafer, explains the major areas that the company is focussing on, “We work on the pain points of the drivers that are not otherwise addressed. On a driver level, the majority of accidents are caused by bad driving practices that are passed down — drowsiness because of long-distance hauls with no breaks and lastly, confusion on whom to call during the golden hour of an emergency. At a more holistic level, there is a 30 percent deficit of drivers in India while all the others have no formal training, unions or security in the profession. HumSafer is designed to overcome these issues by using gamification to understand motivation, incentives, and rewards, our unique offerings set us apart from any other safety app in the market.”
The key highlights of the app include:
-Alerts that gently nudge drivers on their safety and good driving behaviour.
-Monetary rewards that are credited straight to the driver through UPI.
- Insurance and other medical aid they can register onto through the app.
- Live sharing of location with select contacts to keep in touch with their families.
- A 24x7 helpline for any road assistance, and
- Community page-to share and discuss grievances and others with the community.
Asset-light frugal innovation
It is a well-known fact that when it comes to optional creature comforts and tech, the Indian commercial vehicle segment sees most customers preferring to not invest in the same. For instance, demand for trucks with air-conditioned cabins has been miniscule despite the hot and humid driving conditions across the country.
For safety too, driver monitoring system has hardly found many takers in the country, which the HumSafer co-founders realised during the design phase of their solution.
Kotwal says that the app has been designed with an aim to see truckers reap benefits as they are the primary users of the app. “Most tech solutions are expensive, clunky and are unable to hold the attention of the driver. This is because those solutions are created keeping the top-down approach in mind where the transporter comes first but not the driver’s life. HumSafer is an asset-light, AI-driven-solution unlike anything else in the market. The app itself is accessible, affordable and available. By registering with a driver’s license or Aadhar card, the entire process is digitised and truckers are inclined to use the app much longer as it is a reward based. The app directly transfers Rs 1.50 for every 10km of safe driving, resulting in Rs 500-1,000 more in the driver’s pocket. Through our partners we also insure them and their families which is also not offered by other solutions.”
“As for transporters, they can benefit from our database of certified drivers and safety features while using our versatile platform to create their own in-house incentives. We want to make sure that the cost of goods is not at the cost of human life that is irreplaceable.”
Sumedh Mane and Jehaan Kotwal , co-founders of HumSafer Driver Safety Foundation.
Using data to improve driver behaviour
For any new product/service to be successful an ability to retain customers/users is the key to progress. At present, the company says its the app has over 10,000 subscribers, with 30 percent daily active users. The early adoption for monetary benefits has shot up daily user retention.
On data privacy, Mane says, “The data’s primary objective is to improve driver behaviour. For example, a driver may have six violations against him in terms of over-speeding or neglecting traffic rules. With the help of the app, the trucker might improve his driving and have fewer violations the next week. Essentially, we measure the number of violations and how effectively the driver was able to change his behaviour. The data we use to monitor the driver’s behaviour is to understand how many violations he committed and out of our real-time alerts, how many did he comply with.”
Furthermore, he says at present most insurance companies are not fully aware of details like the vehicle distance travelled, route taken and hours at work among others. The HumSafer database can stream this information to make insurance claims easier and less complex. Secondly, it will enable the organisation to have larger conversations with OEMs to understand what information they can benefit from. Lastly, the data includes the quality of drivers with an option to upskill poor performing drivers and reskill others to improve overall driving habits.
This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's October 1 issue.