Driving safe with HumSafer

Accessible to any truck driver across the country, our app is helping in addressing some key issues like driver safety, providing real time alerts in their local languages etc., with a 24X7 helpline. Jehaan Kotwal, Co-founder, HumSafer, shares with CARGOTALK his vision and plans.

Priyanshi Bana

Q Kindly elaborate on HumSafer Driver Safety Foundation.

Our vision at HumSafer Driver Safety Foundation is to reduce road accidents and to improve the lives of truck drivers across the country. We run various programmes for the welfare of our truck drivers. One big initiative is our android mobile application, which can be easily accessible by any truck driver across the country. A lot of our initiatives are addressed through our mobile application so we can address a large community in a short span of time. Our app is also aimed at helping truck drivers improve their driving skills by giving gentle nudges when they are driving badly and providing rewards when they are driving well

Q What initiatives has your foundation taken to improve the conditions of such drivers?

Our digital application provides truck drivers real time alerts in their local language and we also have a 24/7 help line, we have also enabled their families to know about their whereabouts. We do medical check-ups, provide insurance and inculcate financial literacy programmes, and there are many more in the pipeline which we are doing in collaboration with multiple partners. The latest addition to our programmes has been #DriveForOxygen to address the shortage of oxygen, which our country is currently facing in this pandemic. We will be insuring, providing medical emergency funds and incentivizing them to drive safely.

Q Since these truckers are performing arduous tasks in such difficult times, risking their own life, are they being treated as frontline workers as far as the vaccination is concerned?

The various transport lobbies and associations have been trying for the longest time to give them the frontline worker label, but this hasn’t been successful. We even ran a campaign a few months after the first lockdown, #HornBajao Campaign, to address this in association with various stakeholders in the transport eco-system, and although we managed to have a large involvement, we had no success with the Ministry taking this issue up

Q With the sudden second surge of COVID everywhere in the country, how was your foundation helpful while facing the shortage of truck drivers, if any?

We are working with the Logistics Skill Council to train over 2,500 drivers over the next few weeks to make sure there is no shortage of these HAZ cargo drivers. Currently through our app we want to retain these existing 4,000 drivers and keep them motivated. We are giving up to  3,000 per driver per month and will also insure the existing drivers against COVID.

Q What is your present network? Any expansion plans?

We have tied up with four of the six largest oxygen players and their 20 factories. Our expansion will be over all 33+ plants over the next few weeks. We have started off with 100 drivers in Pune and Mumbai as of May 10.  As we get more CSR funds, we will be able to reach more drivers.

Q Any difficulties/ hurdles being faced by you in these times of medical exigency that India is in?

We are getting the support from all the Oxygen partners, the Logistics Skill Council and the Ministry of Commerce. What we need now is the funds to be deployed to the drivers which is where the most of our energy is being diverted to at the moment.  They are scared for their life but still work for over 14-16 hours every day and are yet completely neglected by everyone. If these 4,000+ drivers decide to stop driving for whatever reason our nation’s oxygen supply will come to a standstill. People still don’t understand that, and not enough attention is being put into this.

Q Why an app and what can it do?

There are many safety tools and applications out there, the only difference is that they are either expensive or not easily accessible. And the ones which have managed to address the gaps, still only restrict the communication between the individual truck driver and the transporter/owner/broker. We want to bring this fragmented community together, and like most devices not merely penalise drivers when they drive poorly but appreciate them for good behaviour.

Thanks to cheaper smartphones, better connectivity and affordable data services, along with smartphone adoption, we are able to find a 70% smartphone adoption in our truck driver community and this number is only increasing rapidly in the past decade.

There are many programmes which will be on-ground but most of individual deliveries such as providing monetary incentives through their UPI straight into their bank accounts and verifying the eligibility for insurance through a simple Aadhar verification API makes digital a great medium for delivering our services. Our aim is to reach scale at a rapid pace to create the impact that we envision and for this, we believe an android application built on the foundation of Human Centered Design and observed ground realities is the way to go.