On the 14th of May, I had the privilege of joining friends from the Hollard Highway Heroes Campaign on a road trip from Johannesburg to Harrismith! We attended an activation at the largest Tuck Stop in Africa at Highway Junction. This was indeed very insightful, and it is only appropriate that I take some time, reflect on what I have witnessed and brought this into a road safety context!
During the past 16 years, through the development of the Arrive Alive road safety website, I have become very much aware of road safety challenges in South Africa, especially those facing the road freight industry. Allow me a few facts:
- About 30% of all the traffic on the N3 are heavy vehicles.
- There is a very important need to ensure our truck drivers have safe and secure facilities to take a break from driving.
- More than 1000 heavy vehicles move in and out of the Highway Junction Truck Stop every night.
- The Transport Sector Retirement Fund is a strategic partner in the development and upgrades of the Highway Junction Truck Stop.
- Hollard manages the now well-respected Hollard Highway Heroes Campaign rewarding our best and most responsible truck drivers.
The purpose of the activation in Harrismith was to invite more of the truck drivers to enter the Highways Heroes Competition whilst at the same time treating them to some relaxation, holding some healthy competition and award them with some prizes. Hollard has significantly increased the Highway Heroes Campaign to allow more drivers, even those driving for companies not insured by them, to take part in the competition.
A very important part of the event was to gain some insights from our truck drivers through interviews held by Highways Heroes ambassador Macfarlane Moleli. [More on these insights in a separate post]
Respect for our Truck Drivers
A few years ago, I was invited to a panel at the year-end function of the Road Freight Association at Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg. I remember very well one of the truck operators telling the attendees that in the UK a truck driver is well respected as a professional person – and that we need more of this recognition for truck drivers in South Africa.
This is one of the reasons why I am proud to see the Hollard Highway heroes Campaign recognize professionalism among truck drivers! Through partnerships with our telematics providers, the driving behaviour of truck drivers is managed in terms of speed, braking, cornering etc and the competition recognizes those truck drivers who have consistently performed professionally and who can truly be regarded as Highway Heroes. The sizable cash prizes to both driver and fleet operator not only inspires the winners but also others to improve truck driving behaviour – ultimately making our roads safer!
Safety when not Driving
Respect for our truck drivers goes even beyond awarding safe and responsible driving behaviour. At Highway Junction, we were joined by Mandla Nkosi, member of the Transport Sector Retirement Fund board of trustees.
The Transport Sector Retirement Fund is focused on not only looking after the financial and retirement needs of employees in the Transport Sector but also the health and safety of truck drivers. The TSRF is a partner in the development of truck stops such as Highway Junction. Safety and security have become a major concern for truck drivers wishing to rest their eyes for a few hours. By enabling our truck drivers to buy good food, to freshen up and shower at world-class facilities such as Highway Junction we are also giving them the respect they so much deserve!
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) May 14, 2019
On the Arrive Alive website, we have shared several pages of content on Sharing the Roads with Trucks, safely operating vehicles around trucks and initiatives to keep our trucks roadworthy and our truck drivers fit and healthy. To have been part of this Activation in Harrismith has been an eye-opener. To interact with these heroes driving their trucks day and night, often away from their families for so long and facing so many threats on their travels have inspired all of us to do more to create awareness about the need to show increased care and respect for our Highway Heroes!