Lafarge India has taken a number of initiatives to create awareness among drivers about road safety, safe driving and healthy practices. Dr Camille M Gonsalves outlines some of the initiatives taken by Lafarge India.
India has among the highest number of road accident casualties in the world. Statistics available in the public domain indicate that a death occurs every four minutes on Indian roads. Poor road planning, inadequate law enforcement, a surge in the number of trucks and cars on the roads, and a flood of untrained drivers have all contributed to the high rate of fatal accidents in India.
While it's easy to blame such accidents on reckless driving habits of drivers, mitigation often posses a challenge, given our lack of understanding of the mindset of a driver. Hence, to bring about a mindset change, its important to understand the triggers for drivers to engage in unsafe activity.
Lafarge India has undertaken a research on driver behaviour to understand what motivates them and what doesn't. The study shows that well- being of the family and financial security are strong motivators for drivers while personal safety ranks third in their list of priorities. They do not realise that they can ensure a secure future for their families only when they are safe. Safety interventions for drivers should address this gap. Such interventions should help him understand the importance of his safety, if his family is to have a good future and financial stability. The study also brings to light that money is not always a motivator for drivers. They often desire recognition and respect. This makes them feel important and wanted. A behavioral change can be initiated by showing respect and empathy, by helping them understand the correlation between their individual safety and the welfare of their families, and by assisting them in matters of financial security.
Cement companies have come together to promote road safety programmes which recognise truck drivers and transporters as very important associates of the cement industry and give priority to their safety and welfare. Working closely with a population of transporters and truck drivers, Lafarge India has taken a number of initiatives to create awareness among them about road safety, safe driving and healthy practices so that they can lead a safe and healthy life. Interventions like providing proper basic facilities like rest shelters, proper drinking water facilities and lavatories demonstrates respect and concern for their welfare and well-being. Some of the other programmes conducted by Lafarge India are:
Defensive driving training
Defensive driving training programmes are conducted regularly across all Lafarge India locations. Through practical training and theoretical modules drivers learn about driving in a manner that utilizes safe driving strategies to enable them to address road risks in a safe way. These strategies go well beyond instructions on basic traffic procedures and regulations. Drivers learn to improve their driving skills by reducing their driving risks by anticipating situations and making safe, well informed decisions. Every driver is also provided with a passport which records the number of trainings and refreshers courses attended by a driver.
GPS system has been installed in most Lafarge controlled vehicles. This helps continuous monitoring of driving behaviour including speed violations, maintaining of driving hours, safe distance maintenance etc. Based on the GPS data errant drivers are engaged with the risks involved are properly explained.
These are special events organized across all Lafarge India plants to involving the drivers and their family. Through different programmes , family members of drivers are made aware about the need for safe driving, so that they can act as influencers. Street plays and games are organised to share the message of road safety. Films related to road safety are also shown to the attendees. To reinforce positive behaviour, drivers who comply with safety standards are awarded in front of the gathering. This helps instill a sense of pride and satisfaction among them.
Health checkup camps
Given the nature of their work and lifestyle, periodic health check- up camps are organised for drivers. At these camps, they avail of routine checkup facilities, consultation with a doctor and free medicine distribution. Among the tests conducted are eye tests, blood sugar and general health examination.
Studies have indicated that if messages are shared with drivers in the form of pictures or videos, the effect is higher than verbal training. They are able to understand the message better through visual or interactive means. Street plays are, therefore, an effective medium for communicating different aspects of road safety to drivers. Lafarge India regularly organises such plays across its locations to create desired impact within its drivers.
Other safety initiatives
Lafarge India has provided PPEs (Personal Protection Equipments) to all drivers of controlled vehicles. Lafarge India also plans to install additional seat belts in vehicles. Periodic visits are organised to traffic parks to refresh drivers' knowledge of traffic rules and safe driving practices. To reinforce positive behaviour, Lafarge India periodically rewards the best drivers. A picture of the driver along with his family is taken, framed and handed over to him. This makes the driver to feel recognised and encourages them to be more safety conscious.
While the cement industry is working to ensure safe driving behaviour among drivers, society also needs to change its outlook for sustained results. We need to be inclusive in our approach towards drivers, show respect and empathy to help them understand the value of their lives.
Dr Camille M Gonsalves, Country Head, Corporate Affairs & CSR, Lafarge India.