AP offers water, tea to drivers to thwart mishaps
Chairing a recent review meeting, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu issued a piquant order. He directed officials of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) to provide water bottles and thermos flasks to their longdistance bus drivers.
Though surprised, the APSRTC officials were not stumped. Many already knew that Babu was being inspired by an ongoing initiative by the state police to bring down accidents on the national highway number 16 by offering drivers water and tea.
For the past one month, police in the state have been patrolling the accident-prone highway cutting through the state and connecting Kolkata with Chennai with mugs of water and cups of hot tea, stopping buses at key points and politely asking the driv- ers to get down. The drivers are then requested to wash their faces with water from the mugs and then offered hot cups of tea. “It is meant to overcome their tiredness during the long-distance travel. It gives them much needed break, after which they are allowed to resume their journey,” said inspector general of road safety, legal and technical services, E Damodar.
“We also at times pick up a conversation with them to beat their boredom,” Damodar explained.
According to him, most accidents take at the dead of night when drivers tend to lose concentration as also the control of the wheel. “If they wash their faces and have a cup of tea or coffee at regular intervals, they become fresh and alert, so that the possibility of accidents will be less,” Damodar told HT.
In absence of data, it is not certain to what extent accidents have come down after the initiative. But police officials say the move is bringing about positive change.
“We also remind the drivers that their families are waiting at home. These words have a lot of impact on them,” M Kamalakar Rao, deputy superintendent of police and nodal officer of the initiative in Guntur, pointed out.