New SaferStops Association – a promising project for driver safety and wellness
(From left to right): Adnaan Emeran, MD Marketing Business Development, Engen - Nicci Scott-Anderson, CEO: Commercial Training Academy - Kedibone Diale-Tlabela, MEC for Transport & Logistics: Gauteng - Nash Omar, CEO Hollard Insure - Gavin Kelly, CEO: RFA

Safety, wellbeing and health are critical to long-distance commercial drivers and the current landscape falls short of providing high standard stops with the required facilities to contribute to this.

The SaferStops Association (SSA) was founded by Nicci Scott-Anderson, founder and owner of the Commercial Transport Academy (CTA).  CTA is focussed on the development of women drivers and gender equality in the industry.  With this in mind, the current state of truck stops is inadequate.

“SaferStops emerged from the gender-diversity initiatives facilitated by the Commercial Transport Academy (CTA),” explains Nicci Scott-Anderson, founder of the CTA and the SSA. “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. 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.”

The key pillars of the initiative are:

  • Health and wellness
  • Improving truck stops infrastructure
  • Education and development
  • Research and data collection
  • Public awareness campaigns

The SSA has received significant support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), who provided seed funding.  Numerous prominent companies, government departments and leading industry associations have come in as partners.  Collaborators include Hollard, Ctrack, Engen, UD Trucks, Gud, Michelin, the Department of Transport, the Road Freight Association and the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry.

A number of projects have kicked off the initiative, including healthy meal alternatives at truck stops.  Exercise facilities for the drivers to stretch, work out and break the tedious driving routine are in the pipeline.

WiFi access and entertainment at truck stops is also a critical factor, so that drivers can relax and make contact with their families during driving breaks.

SSA are also actively developing easily accessible and user-friendly education and learning materials to empower drivers with skills and new qualifications.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the Road Feight Association, gave some interesting statistics; there are 570 truck stops in South Africa, twenty on the N3 servicing 7 000 freight vehicles a day, and eight on the N4 servicing 4 500 freight vehicle a day.

Getting all of these up to a minimum national standard is a massive task, but will be worthwhile in the end.