Accident is just a call away

Lifestyle By Michelle Bronx |

Hyderabad: Taxi drivers, especially radio cab drivers, need to constantly be on the phone to coordinate with customers, but talking on the phone while driving has been forbidden by law. In fact, drivers are not even allowed to use a hands-free device.

There are no statistics available on how many of those involved in mobile phone-related accidents are radio cab drivers.

Mr Kanumala Vinod Kumar, a traffic expert from the Indian Federation of Road Safety said, “Nearly 65-70 per cent of drivers in India use cellphones while driving. This trend is seen more among young drivers of app-based cab services and marketing personnel. A recent survey said that Bengaluru leads the nation with 83 per cent in the mobile-phone-usage-while-driving category which leads to accidents that are often fatal.”

According to a report by World Health Organisation, ‘Mobile Phone Use: A growing problem of driver distraction,’ the distraction caused by mobile phones can affect driving in many ways. It may affect the driver’s response time to events like traffic and pedestrians and even signals.

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The report also says that using a mobile phone for text messaging while driving has a greater impact on behaviour. This increased risk appears to be similar for both hand-held and hands-free phones, suggesting that it is the cognitive distraction that results from being involved in a conversation on a mobile phone that has the greatest impact on driving behaviour, and thus increases crash risk.

Hyderabad joint transport commissioner J. Panduranga Naik said, “Taxi drivers should stop their vehicles and then answer calls.”

It’s either lose incentives or offend the customer

On an average, cab drivers receive 20 to 30 customer calls a day and due to continuous advance booking they have to constantly answer calls. If they don’t, their bookings get cancelled.

Cab drivers claim that if they answer the customer’s call the customer who is travelling with them in the cab is offended and often complains to their cab service provider. This results in incentives getting scrapped.  

Mr Shaik Salauddin, state president of the Four-Wheeler Drivers Association, said, “In many instances our customers cancel their trips if we delay answering calls. Due to the increase in share and car-pooling options in cab services we need to pick up at least three customers on a single trip. So we have to continuously follow up with customers.”

Ch Swamy, a taxi driver, said, “We work for around 15 hours a day and we get around 20 to 30 calls every day. Many a times we do stop our vehicle to take the calls but whenever we stop, the customer sitting in the car gets restless.”

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