While most truck drivers do not have licences, truck owners claim that license is the only hold they have on drivers. “Not many people here are interested in driving trucks. Most of our drivers hail from Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh,” said lorry owner PK Chainnaraj of Sankari. “But, the first thing that truck drivers do irrespective of where they are from, after causing an accident, is to flee the spot, abandoning the vehicle and the commodities,” he added.
Chainnaraj said that this poses a threat to the commodities and it becomes close to impossible to trace the driver as they change their mobile numbers. “There have also been incidents when drivers fled with the money collected from the customers at the delivery point. That’s why we began to collect and keep their driving licences as a precaution,” said another fleet owner J Krishnan from Namakkal.
Meanwhile, president of the State Lorry Owners Federation-Tamil Nadu (SLOF-TN) MR Kumarasamy said, “In this digital era, the licence can be verified or a case can be registered against the driver after confirming their licence with a biometric format or by linking it with their Aadhaar,” he said.
Kumarasamy said that close to a lakh trucks across the country commute via Tamil Nadu daily excluding the 4.6 lakh trucks in the state.
Pointing out that carrying original driving licences have been made mandatory only in Tamil Nadu, he said that this would affect drivers from other states who mostly carry only a copy.
PK Sukumar, president of the joint action committee comprising 11 auto rickshaw drivers associations in Coimbatore said, “It is a major issue, but it depends on how seriously the police enforce it,” he said. “If enforcement is strong, the three-wheeler drivers are prepared to fight it tooth and nail,” he added.