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AC Cabins in Trucks to become mandatory from 2025

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari have announced a significant development for truck drivers in India. Speaking at the auto industry event 'Desh Chaalak', Gadkari emphasized the need to prioritize the well-being of truck drivers by making air conditioned cabins mandatory. This move aims to address the extreme heat conditions that drivers face, with temperatures soaring up to 43-47 degrees centigrade during peak summer months. By ensuring air conditioned cabins, the physical and mental health of drivers can be safeguarded, reducing the risks of fatigue and accidents caused by prolonged hours on the road.

June 30, 2023 | 3 min read | Trucks

Recognizing the vital role that truck drivers play in the transportation of goods across the country, Gadkari stressed the importance of taking care of their welfare. While many countries impose restrictions on the number of hours a driver can be on the wheel, India faces a shortage of truck drivers, leading to longer operating hours per driver, typically ranging from 14-16 hours. This not only impacts their health but also contributes to incidents of accidents due to fatigue and carelessness.

Addressing concerns about the potential for drowsiness caused by air conditioned cabins, Gadkari dismissed such notions, highlighting that luxury buses also provide AC cabins for drivers. The official announcement regarding the mandate was signed on June 19, 2023, and it is anticipated that a transition period of 18 months will be granted to facilitate the necessary upgrades.

Implementing air conditioning in truck cabins is estimated to incur an additional cost of around Rs 10,000-12,000 per truck. While international truck manufacturers already offer trucks with AC cabins, many Indian manufacturers are yet to adopt this feature. However, companies like Scania and Volvo have already incorporated AC cabins in their higher-end trucks. In line with the new mandate, Tata Motors plans to make AC cabins a standard feature across their entire truck line, alongside technologies such as advanced driver assistance and collision mitigation systems.

Furthermore, Gadkari addressed the pressing need to enhance working conditions for truck drivers. The shortage of skilled drivers must be tackled by establishing more driving schools to provide better training. Efforts should also be made to reduce the number of hours spent on the road. To improve the overall experience, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways plans to set up 570 roadside amenity centres, with one centre every 50 kilometres along the highways. Additionally, promoting lane driving and ensuring proper training for drivers to adhere to regulations are key priorities in creating safer roadways.

In conclusion, the announcement by Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari to make air conditioned cabins mandatory for truck drivers in India marks a significant step towards prioritizing their well-being. By addressing the extreme heat conditions and improving working conditions, this initiative aims to enhance the physical and mental health of truck drivers while also reducing the risks associated with fatigue and accidents. The move towards air conditioned cabins not only demonstrates a commitment to driver welfare but also highlights the importance of recognising their pivotal role in the transportation industry. With efforts to improve training, reduce operating hours, and enhance overall amenities on national highways, the government is taking positive steps towards creating a safer and more supportive environment for truck drivers. By valuing their contributions and investing in their well-being, we can ensure a more sustainable and efficient road transport system in India.

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