New trucks have AC chambers from April 2017
“We are going to make air-conditioning of driver cabins of new trucks and buses mandatory so that the drivers, who work for several hours nonstop, get some relief and can drive with more alertness.”
All new trucks manufactured after April 1 next year will have to be provided with air-conditioned chamber for drivers. The road transport ministry notified this claiming that drivers shouldn’t get tired owing to the harsh conditions.
Last year, road transport minister Nitin Gadkari had said, “We are going to make air-conditioning of driver cabins of trucks and buses mandatory so that the drivers, who work for several hours nonstop, get some relief and can drive with more alertness.”
Trucks were responsible for about 11.5% (11,600 persons) of the total 1.4 lakh road deaths in 2015. Similarly, buses were involved in 10,740 deaths last year.
Though the country’s apex vehicle manufacturing entity, SIAM, has welcomed the government’s concern for comfort of truck drivers, it said that since AC was a “comfort related” subject and not a “safety subject”, it should not be regulated or mandated. “All comfort-related features in vehicles should be driven by the market and the customer, and not by regulation,” SIAM director-general Vishnu Mathur said.
He added that the timeline of just four months was not enough to provide AC cabins on all trucks and that it would seriously impact the preparedness of the industry in meeting the BS-IV norms across the country, as vehicles would need to be redesigned and sent for fresh homologation.
Meanwhile, road safety experts and transport industry analysts have pointed out that the government must also protect the interests of drivers by ensuring minimum wage, PF, medical leave and gratuity.