A study done by the Jayadewa Institute shows that young (18 to 40 years old) taxi drivers are prone to heart problems.
On one hand, cab aggregators like Ola and Uber are credited to create more job opportunities in the city for the youth, there is a big downside to this blessing. Any individual who has a driving license and has a car can get enlisted with any cab aggregators in the city, and start to make a decent living by driving passengers.
This has been a boon to commuters who no longer have to wait for the Bengaluru Municipal Transport Corporation buses, when they can have a car at their doorsteps with a single swipe on their smartphones. Technology has definitely made life easier for commuters, but it comes at a cost, the life of a man sitting behind the wheel.
The majority of the drivers who work for cab aggregators in the city hail from neighboring districts of Karnataka. These drivers work continuously 24 to 48-hour shifts without getting any proper sleep or have any food. To keep themselves awake for such long hours, they tend to smoke or even consume alcohol. Such intoxication methods do help them pull through their shift but takes a toll on their bodies.
These young cab drivers take loans from banks to purchase vehicles, which has to be paid back in monthly installments. Since they get paid an incentive on the number of trips they do in a day, these cabbies tend to push their body limit to earn extra money to repay their loans.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of patients suffering from heart attacks who come to Jayadewa for treatment,” said Dr. Rahul Patil, a cardiologist at the Jayadewa Institute. Patil heads the project Premature Coronary Artery Disease (PCAD) launched in September 2017.
The main focus of this project is to understand why more and more young Indians are getting heart attacks, and what measures can be taken to prevent this. This study is focusing only on the patients who are in the age group of 16 to 40 years old.
“Twenty five percent of patients who have been studied and treated under the PCAD program are cab drivers,” said Patil. “They are exposed to a lot of stress and they lead a very bad lifestyle, which often results in strokes. We are also studying if long exposure to pollution can trigger a stroke in the case of cab drivers”.
“I work 24-hour shifts and take rest for 8 hours, and then resume my shift. I have to pay 30,000 rupees to the bank every month as part of the loan repayment for my car. To earn more money, I try to do as many as trips possible,” said Kiran, a 22-year-old cabbie with Ola.
India’s Motor Vehicles Workers Act of 1961 sets a limit of 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week for professional drivers, but this law does not apply to Ola and Uber drivers, as they are not employees of the companies, but independent contractors.
“Cab aggregating companies won’t make a profit if they follow the rules religiously. Most of the cab drivers who work for private services are independent cab owners. India’s Motor Vehicles Workers Act does not apply to contractors.
There should be new laws that can be applied to independent cab contractors working for cab aggregator firms. Driver fatigue and overwork put both the customer and the driver’s life in jeopardy,” said Prof. M.N. Sreehari, traffic expert and CEO of Consortia of Infrastructure Engineers.