SANRAL Improves Eastern Cape Road Safety With Truck Driver Outreach Initiative

SEPTEMBER 18, 2014

Chekicoast Road Safety Programme Promotes Driver Wellbeing and Vehicle Safety in Eastern Cape

Port Elizabeth - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) today hosted an awareness and education outreach programme in Nelson Mandela Bay to improve road safety on the N2.

The Eastern Cape has one of the country’s highest accident rates.

Elna Fourie, SANRAL Road Safety and Awareness manager, said that as part of a national initiative, the agency was targeting long-haul drivers of heavy transport vehicles with an education and awareness programme to improve road safety.

“The road safety outreach programme at the N2 Engen Mayibuye Truck Stop in Port Elizabeth today (subs: 18 September 2014) was the fourth and final outreach for the year.”

Fourie says that heavy transport vehicle drivers often travel longer distances than motorists.

“A recent Wits university study showed that three quarters of truck drivers reported fatigue on the job due to prolonged working hours.

“In addition, the study finds that some truck drivers work 90 hour a week, and that half of truck drivers get less than 5 hours of sleep per day,” Fourie said.

A separate study into the causes of road accidents (including both motorists and truck drivers) points that the main factors were on the one hand human related driving errors (78%) and on the other as a result of unsafe vehicle mechanical issues (10%).

Over 100 information packs were handed out to truck drivers as they woke up at the truck stop as well as soup and a roll. One driver, John Selai (59), who has been driving trucks since 1978 said that SANRAL “blessed our morning, because it is risky on the road”.

Another driver, David Xakwe, also an experiences driver with 20 years on the road under his belt, said although there were risks and challenges, there were also rewards. “It’s a hard life, but we need to make money for our families, but you also make friends along the way and meet good people,” he said.

Xakwe, who works for Cargo Africa Imperial, emphasized safety as one of his key areas of focus. “I have never had an accident in the 20 years I have been driving, touch wood – and events like these are a constant reminder that you have to always be awake.”

Dr Mongezi Noah, SANRAL’s Southern Region Community Development Specialist, who was part of the morning wake-up call team, said the truckers appreciated that the Checkicoast initiative has been activated in the region. “The truck drivers are literally driving the economy of the country. The more support they get from us the better. We want them to be aware that we are considering their needs, from safety to new roads infrastructure designed to protect them.”

The Chekicoast Road Safety programme underscores the importance of vehicle and driver safety for truck drivers.

“We have been conducting activations at truck stops, supplying educational materials, engaging in dialogue, handing out refreshment packs, and raising awareness about health and well-being to promote road safety.       

“The Chekicoast Road Safety initiative is emphasising the importance of pre-trip inspections and vehicle maintenance, and is also encouraging ample rest and replenishment to combat fatigue in order to improve road safety,” Fourie said.

Fourie pointed out that truck stops are often the only facilities for truckers to rest in a safe place during their long journeys.

Other similar events hosted by SANRAL at various truck stops around the country over the past two months received positive responses from the trucking community.

“We are confident that this initiative will improve preservation of lives in the Eastern Cape of those travelling on roads.”

Photo caption: WAKE UP CALL... SANRAL Community Development Specialist, Dr Mongezi Noah, gives truckers, Richard Peter and Petro Tefo, a safety care pack and tips at the N2 Engen Mayibuye Truck Stop in Port Elizabeth before they hit the road. Image: supplied.