Two drivers of buses involved in accidents within a one month period were driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the roadways union members the less than required number of drivers in Uttarakhand roadways is a major factor for the drivers being in such a state. They also said that the Uttarakhand Transport Corporation has not taken any lesson from the accident in Agra, where the driver had a micro-sleep episode which resulted in the accident which caused 29 deaths.
General Secretary of Uttaranchal Roadways Karmchari Union (URKU) Ashok Chaudhary said, “According the Motor Vehicles Act 1956, a driver at a time should not drive continuously for more than seven hours that is roughly 250 kilometres. After doing the seven-hour shift, he also must take rest for about nine hours. However, the lack of required number of drivers has resulted in the overtime schedule of the existing drivers.”
When asked about the number of drivers needed immediately he said, “More that 600 post for the drivers are vacant in roadways and we need at least 300 immediately.”
General Manager (Administration and Personnel) Nidhi Yadav said, “Last year we had a fleet of 1540 buses, this year the number of buses has reduced to 1260. The department is strict about the routine of our employees, no one will keep the lives of 40-42 people in the hand of a man which is not properly rested. However, if there were internal cases of a driver doing overtime, these have not come to my notice yet. For the recruitment of new drivers, our 300 new buses will reach by the end of August, for which we have started the recruiting procedure for 300 drivers.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the Pauri road accident at Pokhda Sanglakoti road on July 9 in which bus of Garhwal Motors Owner’s Union (GMOU) fell down the mountain into a gorge, killing three people on the spot. The police suspect that driver and conductor both were under the influence of alcohol. According to the Pauri Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dilip Singh Kunwar, the passengers on the bus stated that both the driver and the conductor were arguing and could have been drunk at that time. The driver in the accident has died with two others.