The Commercial Transport Academy (CTA) has launched a new public-private partnership to transform the landscape for commercial drivers by providing comprehensive safety and wellness programmes.
Nicci Scott-Anderson, founder of the CTA and the new SaferStops Association (SSA) that was launched last week, said the initiative had gained significant traction.
According to Scott-Anderson the initiative was spearheaded by a vision to create a more secure and supportive environment for all commercial drivers across South Africa.
“SaferStops emerged from the gender-diversity initiatives facilitated by the Commercial Transport Academy (CTA.
“In the process of pinpointing obstacles preventing women from embarking on long-haul trucking careers, we discerned a profound shortage of truck stops addressing female drivers’ unique requirements,” she said.
“Our investigation of truck stops along principal routes revealed widespread shortcomings in catering to the enduring physical and emotional well-being of drivers – irrespective of their gender.
“We also identified a pattern linking a multitude of road accidents to chronic fatigue. This exhaustion isn’t merely linked to insufficient sleep but is frequently tied to poor nutrition, adrenal burnout, sleep apnea and lifestyle diseases commonly affecting truck drivers.
SaferStops initiative is founded on five pillars:
• Health and wellness initiatives: providing access to tailored resources and support for maintaining physical, emotional and mental health.
• Improving truck stops infrastructure: setting an industry benchmark for standardising truck stop facilities and infrastructure, creating a space for drivers to rejuvenate.
• Education and development: offering opportunities for training to move from the class and into the cab, as drivers use new technologies to enhance their skills and knowledge.
• Research and data collection: researching truck driver welfare, working conditions and industry trends to inform policies and programmes.
• Public awareness campaigns: launching campaigns to increase awareness of the challenges that truck drivers encounter daily.
The SaferStops initiative has received support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), providing vital seed funding, while local companies, government departments, and leading industry associations have forged partnerships with it.
These include Hollard, Ctrack, Engen, UD Trucks, Guud, Michelin, the Department of Transport, the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, the Road Freight Association and the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry.
SaferStops has initiated several projects aimed at improving driver well-being and safety. One such project introduces healthy meal alternatives for commercial drivers at truck stops. Additionally, the focus extends to exercise facilities, with plans to provide drivers with access to on-site gyms, allowing them to stretch, work out, and break the routine of spending up to 12 hours in a truck.
Mental health is another priority for SaferStops.
“We now know that depression is one of the leading problems that truck drivers suffer from, particularly with the time they spend alone. Mental, physical and emotional health are all key, and we will be looking to address all of these,” Scott-Anderson said.
WiFi access and entertainment facilities at truck stops are also on the cards.
SaferStops is also developing user-friendly educational materials so drivers can enhance their knowledge and acquire new qualifications.
“As the bedrock of the logistics industry and wider economy, truck drivers perform an essential role and should be considered essential workers. Their tireless efforts power our communities, and it’s our turn to give back,” she said.