“Driving a bus is like riding an elephant so handle it with care”

“When I am on duty, my mobile phone will be switched off,” says S. Ariyaputhiran, a driver with the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, who recently bagged an award for accident-free service in the last 20 years of his career.

At a time, when road accidents are on the rise and fatalities are common, accident-free drivers are a ‘rare commodity,’ a speaker at a recent road safety meeting said.

Mr.Ariyaputhiran (50) says that dedication to work and self-discipline have brought laurels in his life. “When I joined service in 1993, driving in a relaxed manner was possible. Today, you have to be attentive, irrespective of whether it is a peak hour or non-peak hour.”

“I do ‘pranayama’ for 30 minutes daily before and after work. This gives me immense peace at work. My mind is free from any distraction and it does not get diverted easily,” he adds.

Another driver in his mid-30s, who wishes not to be named, says, “In my eight years of service, I have not come across any accident and hope to continue the trend.” The secret of his success: “I do not get irritated when someone keeps honking. Driving a bus is like riding an elephant. You have to handle it with care.” Regular diet and clean habits play a vital role in accident-free driving. To qualify for accident-free service, the TNSTC employees should not have any police case against them. The eligibility norms for the recognition are quite tough.

Senior TNSTC officials say that they impart training to drivers in yoga, meditation and other skills at the Pasumalai centre. Special counselling to crew members, who are involved in road accidents, is also provided and vision test is mandatory.

Officials at the centre are proud that in the last one year alone 1,573 drivers in Madurai, 994 in Dindigul and 549 in Virudhunagar have earned the distinction of accident-free service. There are two drivers in Madurai and Virudhunagar, who have an unblemished service in the last 25 years; six such drivers are in Madurai, one in Dindigul and two in Virudhunagar with 20 years of accident-free driving. There are 21 drivers in Madurai and one in Virudhunagar with15 years of accident-free driving.

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