Overworked drivers make cab rides a risky affair in Bengaluru

According to traffic police, as most taxi drivers work long shifts to earn extra incentives, hence, lack of sleep causes a numbr of accidents.
An Ola cab in Bengaluru.
An Ola cab in Bengaluru.

BENGALURU: With a rising number of people becoming dependent on app-based cab services in the city, the flip sides of the facility are coming to fore too. While Ola and Uber have brought several comforts to commuters, citizens as well as traffic police have been raising concern about the dangers these cabs pose on the road.  

According to the traffic department, about 60 per cent of the road is occupied by cabs run by private operators, leading to congested roads. Most cab drivers work throughout the day in order to earn extra incentives, even if that means staying at the wheel at the cost of their sleep. Exhausted and drowsy taxi drivers are becoming a prime cause for accidents in the city, traffic police officials say.

“Ola, Uber and private cab drivers,  in order to extra money, accept rides at night too, after putting in a hard day at work. As they are sleepy, they fail to pay attention to the road, thus causing accidents,” P Harishekaran, Additional Commissioner (Traffic), said.  

Most of the accidents occur on the Outer Ring Roads and the airport road, a source from Ola said. “At least 5-6 accidents in a week occur due to drivers not taking adequate rest. Most of them take a 10-minute nap while waiting for the next ride and when they suddenly wake up, they are half sleepy, leading to a crash. Just last week, a cab crashed onto the divider on KR Puram Road. Most of the cases are not reported to the police,” the source added. Most of the accidents usually occur between 3am and 6am.

Most drivers work for over 18 hours a day to reach the targets set by their company. Drivers are attracted towards doing double shifts as they are then able to earn one-and-a-half times of the day charges. They say rides in South Bengaluru areas and to the airport fetch them more money at night. They often find customers who take cabs after a party or late night dinners. “I drive from 7am to 3am,” Suresh, an Ola driver, told CE. He added that he washes his face regularly to look fresh. “We wait near the pubs near BTM Layout and Indiranagar to get customers at night. It’s the best time to earn some extra money. Also, traffic is less at that time,” he said.

Their fatigue becomes more acute with the rise in tempertature and increase in traffic. It takes twice
the time to reach any destination now as compared to a few years ago, said another driver, Raju. “It takes more than 40 minutes to travel just 7 km. We are tired by the end of the day and not able to meet our targets. This is one reason we stay up at night and some of us lose concentration,”he added.

The issue is also adding to commuters’ concern about their safety. “I travelled by Uber the day before yesterday after 11pm. The driver was sleeping in the car when I booked the cab. On asking him, he said he was just taking a quick 10-minute nap because he has to work all night. He had been working since 10 in the morning,” recalled Juhi Kumari (name changed). “He told me how at night he travels towards the airport after looking at the flight timings. During the day, he takes bookings in the central areas of the city, where he can get more customers,” she added.

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The New Indian Express