Lucknow: An Uttar Pradesh minister Wednesday said bus drivers should take a nap or practise Vajrasana following a heavy meal so that they don't doze off at the wheel, advice which comes after a road accident killed 29 people recently.
At a press conference here, UP Transport minister Swatantradev Singh said an inquiry committee report into the Yamuna Expressway accident Monday has suggested that the driver fell asleep.
Twenty-nine people were killed and 18 injured as the state-run Lucknow-Delhi bus plunged into a drain off the expressway near Agra.
The inquiry committee constituted by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was asked to submit its report to the state government within 24 hours.
The minister said he got the Vajrasana tip from a video made by Sadguru. Vajrasana is a basic sitting posture in yoga.
"I was watching a video yesterday," he told reporters. The video instructed that if anyone is driving after a full meal, he should take a 30-minute break.
That is, when he eats, he should either take a nap or sit in Vrajasana for 20 minutes and then go, the minister said.
When asked why the route of the bus was changed, Singh said there were no passengers for Ghazipur that day but several people were heading for Agra or Delhi.
"The passengers wanted that the bus should be allowed to depart as soon as possible. The driver was also ready for this," he said.
"The driver of the ill-fated bus had joined after three days of leave. He had a good track record and was involved in only one accident in the past. He had an experience of eight or nine years," the transport minister said.
No action can be taken against the driver as he is dead. But if officials on checking duty on the route were missing, action will be taken against them, he said.
He also suggested further training for drivers who had not been trained adequately. Their health checks should also be carried out, he said.
"Apart from this, public awareness should also be done. The regional managers should ensure compliance of this," Singh said.
The minister said his department has received suggestions like installing crash barriers, increasing the number of rumble strips, deputing two drivers on long-distance buses and prominently displaying the helpline number.
He said safety vigil by department officials will be stepped up on the Yamuna Expressway.
The accident was the latest in a series of fatal mishaps on the 165-km highway.
This year alone, at least 77 people have died, according to data accessed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation through a Right to Information query.
The NGO said over 700 lives were lost in 4,880 accidents between August 2012, when the expressway was opened for commercial operations, and January last year.
Built at a cost of Rs 12,839 crore, the expressway is managed by Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA).
The YEDIA has identified three "black spots" on the stretch between Greater Noida and Agra where rumble strips have been installed to alert drowsy drivers.
Uttar Pradesh Road Transport Corporation Managing director Dheeraj Sahu said only buses which have run for less than four lakh kilometres and drivers with a good track record will be pressed into service on long-distance buses.
He said the drivers' health check-up, particularly an eye exam, will be done at least once a year.
Meanwhile, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Wednesday visited the Lucknow hospital where some of the injured are admitted.