The Department of Transport (DOT) is pleased to announce a significant development in the realm of road safety—the inaugural Truck Driver Safety and Wellness Symposium. Scheduled for 7 March in Boksburg, Gauteng, under the theme ‘Your Wellness is OUR Concern,’ this collaborative effort with the SaferStops Association (SSA) signifies a crucial step towards addressing the well-being of truck drivers in the road freight industry.
Recognising the indispensable role played by the road freight sector (which transports on average an estimated 140 million tons per annum), Mihlali Gqada, Freight Specialist at the DOT, emphasises, “It is vital that we shed light on truck stops, driver wellness, and safety within the industry.” The Symposium stems from insights gleaned from the SaferStops Association’s 2023 truck driver survey, laying the groundwork for a concerted effort to improve safety standards and overall well-being.
Nicci Scott Anderson, Founder of the SaferStops Association, notes: “I want to acknowledge that the DOT shares our commitment to improving driver safety and wellness and is committed to working with the entire transport eco-system to achieve this. It is an opportunity for each one of us to step up and support in our own ways.”
The Symposium aims to go beyond conventional talk-shops. A comprehensive and engaging day has been designed to incorporate all the key government departments, industry and government associations, state-owned enterprises, the industry bargaining council, the private sector and truck drivers, as well as representatives from the transport operators. Minister of Transport, Ms. Sindisiwe Chikunga, will deliver the Symposium’s opening address, supported by provincial MECs and key stakeholders in the trucking industry.
Statistics have shown that accidents involving trucks can largely be attributed to the fatigue of truck drivers. Driver fatigue poses a serious risk to road safety – this is an issue that is not faced by truck drivers alone, but by even ordinary private drivers in South Africa.
Besides fatigue, there are numerous other health and wellness challenges that truck drivers face, including: unavailability of sufficient medical facilities along the route; unavailability of health and wellness facilities at truck stops; proper sleeping areas at truck stops; unhealthy food; lack of healthy ablution facilities, a sedentary lifestyle that leads to obesity and cardiovascular diseases; and, isolation and loneliness from missing family and friends, which takes a toll on drivers’ mental well-being.
Hosting 180 truck drivers from all provinces, 180 fleet/human resources/risk managers, and engaging with nearly 400 delegates, the event offers the latest insights into nutrition, exercise, and mental health through interactive discussions, on-site activations, and comprehensive medical assessments.
Scott Anderson emphasises the holistic approach to the Symposium, adding: “Our focus extends beyond safety measures to include healthier lifestyle options, better support systems, and a commitment to lifelong learning, encapsulating mental, physical, emotional, environmental, social, and financial wellness.”
Mihlali Gqada concludes: “This event is not just about promoting healthy habits; it showcases the Government’s commitment to the safety and well-being of drivers, the backbone of the road freight industry.”
For additional information on the event, please contact Ayanda Pasiya at pasiyaA@dot.gov.za or Raine at email@example.com. To register go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe5d_pmGYyo0Qm6lRqIeIR5DaiYq4THzbQcyY3cEa55czCY-g/viewform