Innovative Rehab Programme Uses Yoga for Bus Drivers in India

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Keeping bus passengers safe from drunk drivers is a major challenge facing India. Health and traffic experts here argue that alcohol plays a far bigger part in the country's poor road safety record than is acknowledged or understood. There are a disturbing number of buses involved in serious crashes that result in fatalities.

This is why a new initiative in Karnataka, a southern state in India, is innovative: the bus drivers, conductors and mechanics who work for the government’s Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation (KSRTC) are being helped to get clean in order to restore passenger confidence in the sobriety of public transport. The company has pioneered a 40-day rehabilitation programme that uses yoga!

Employees with alcohol problems have cost the company dearly in days off and low productivity while putting the lives of passengers and pedestrians at risk. These drivers are being put through a strict detox regime that is amplified by daily yoga sessions along with counselling, medical lectures, gardening and volleyball. All cash and mobile phones are confiscated. KSRTC pays just over £100 for each employee, a bargain by international rehab standards. Over the past 18 months, 155 men from Karnataka state have attended the sessions at the clinic.

Almost two-thirds of crash fatalities that occur in India on the highways are a lethal combination of drunk driving, speeding and poor visibility. The police say they lack the resources to carry out random alcohol testing on the highways. Many Indian hospitals do not have breathalysers or other detection equipment. The World Health Organisation's global status report on road safety, published in March 2013 highlights that nearly 134,000 people lost their lives in road accidents in 2010.  The number of traffic deaths is increasing by 8 per cent each year, with badly maintained roads, speeding and fatigue as contributing causes.

India has the dismal distinction of being the world leader in the number of people killed in road accidents — in excess of 100,000 each year. Every day, newspapers reserve a few columns for news of the latest mishaps involving reckless, drunk or overworked drivers, negligent or unfortunate pedestrians, hapless passengers in public transport, cars wrecked in collisions with buses and trucks, motorcyclists or bicyclists mowed down by cars — and perhaps most tragically of all, homeless people, often migrant labourers, who are crushed by speeding vehicles as they sleep at night on the sidewalks. India has overtaken China in the worst road traffic accident rate in the world. Yoga in rehab can help lower this dismal score.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia