The Union Road Transport Nitin Gadkari on Monday announced that air-conditioned (AC) cabins will be mandatory for all trucks beginning 2025. The decision came as a relief to drivers who endure long hours on road spending nearly 11-12 hours in hot and uncomfortable cabins.
The adverse working conditions and extended hours have been identified as major factors contributing to driver fatigue and accidents. While renowned global manufacturers like Volvo and Scania already equip their high-end trucks with AC cabins, many Indian manufacturers have yet to adopt this practice, despite years of deliberation on the matter. Minister Gadkari’s approval of the proposal is coupled with a transition period of 18 months, allowing the industry sufficient time to implement the necessary upgrades.
Minister Gadkari emphasized the need for improved conditions for drivers, highlighting the stark contrast between India and other countries where restrictions are placed on the number of hours bus and truck drivers can be on duty. Indian drivers often endure extreme temperatures, ranging from 43 to 47 degrees Celsius, making their working conditions even more challenging.
Gadkari was quoted in a Times of India report saying that the he had signed a file that all trucks will have AC cabins; he made this statement at an event organised by an automobile company. He also dismissed opposition which stated that increased prices will be a hindrance.
Despite initial concerns raised by the industry, arguing that AC cabins may induce sleepiness among drivers, a ministry official debunked these claims. Drawing a parallel with the introduction of Volvo buses, the official explained how the perception of bus drivers feeling drowsy in AC cabins was dispelled, leading to the adoption of AC cabins for drivers in luxury buses. The estimated additional cost of installing AC cabins in trucks ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per truck, according to industry estimates.