Aug 9, 2008

India - Free coffee/biscuits for Truck Drivers

KANCHEEPURAM: Bleary-eyed truck drivers on their way to Chennai wake up to piping hot coffee and crunchy biscuits these days.

Worried by the high number of road accidents on the highways leading to the city, the collector of the adjoining district of Kancheepuram has initiated a welfare programme aimed at heavy vehicle drivers.

Transport officials have been instructed to serve drivers undertaking perilous night drives with biscuits and coffee, besides handing out lessons on safe driving.

Truck drivers cruising down NH 4 (Bangalore-Chennai Highway) at daybreak are therefore being stopped at various points and asked to step out, stretch their legs and help themselves to refreshments. "Between 4 am and 5 am, the time when accidents usually happen, we stop the trucks and ask the drivers to wash their faces. We then give them water to drink, biscuits to munch and coffee or tea as they prefer," says T M Sampath Kumar, regional transport officer, Kancheepuram district.

The initiative comes at a time when the accident rate in and around Chennai as well as other urban centres in the state is on the rise. Across Tamil Nadu, the number of road fatalities rose to 12,036 in 2007, up from 11,009, making it one of the most accident-prone states in the country. Chennai, with a much lower vehicular population, currently ranks next to Delhi among all metros in road accidents and fatalities, and trucks are easily the biggest killers.

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