Michelin Joins Historic Truck Driver Symposium to Drive Change in Safety, Wellness, and Industry Standards

Michelin is proud to be a part of the inaugural Truck Driver Symposium that is being hosted by the Department of Transport (DOT) in collaboration with SaferStops Association (SSA).

Scheduled for the 06th and 07th of March 2024 in Boksburg, Gauteng, under the theme 'Your Wellness is OUR Concern”, the event is aimed at tackling issues faced by truck drivers in the transport industry such as health, safety and wellness.

With a dynamic array of speakers, this inaugural Symposium breaks new ground by not only discussing truck driver wellness but by delving deep into the heart of the issues. It represents a unified endeavour to enact real change, enhance safety measures, and enhance the well-being of drivers across the board.

Ms Chikunga will be hosting the Welcome Dinner on 6 March and delivering the opening address at the Symposium on 7 March.

Acknowledging the crucial role of the road freight sector, which annually transports an estimated 140 million tons, Mihlali Gqada, Freight Specialist at the DOT, stresses the importance of focusing on truck stops, driver wellness, and safety within the industry. The Symposium is informed by findings from the SaferStops Association's 2023 survey of truck drivers, serving as a foundation for a collaborative initiative aimed at enhancing safety protocols and the general welfare of drivers.

Nicci Scott Anderson, the Founder of the SaferStops Association, highlights: "I'd like to recognise that the DOT shares our dedication to enhancing driver safety and well-being, and is dedicated to collaborating with the entire transportation ecosystem to accomplish this goal. This presents an opportunity for each of us to contribute and lend support in our respective capacities.

An inclusive and interactive agenda has been meticulously crafted to include essential government departments, industry and government associations, state-owned enterprises, the industry bargaining council, private sector stakeholders, truck drivers, and representatives from transport operators

"Ensuring that drivers are well taken care of on the roads is paramount not only for their individual well-being but also for the entire fleet ecosystem. Truck drivers are the backbone of the transportation industry, responsible for the efficient movement of goods that drive economies forward. However, their demanding roles often come with significant challenges, including long hours on the road, irregular schedules, and limited access to proper facilities for rest and relaxation” says Charl Lensley on Sales B2B Director at Michelin – one of the key sponsors of the Truck Driver Symposium.

“At Michelin and MICHELIN Connected Fleet, we recognise that the safety and well-being of drivers directly impact the overall performance of fleets. A healthy and happy driver is more alert, focused, and productive, which ultimately leads to safer operations, reduced downtime, and improved efficiency” adds Shivani Pillay, Country Manager at MICHELIN Connected Fleet.

Statistics reveal that truck accidents often stem from driver fatigue, presenting a significant hazard to road safety. This issue isn't exclusive to truck drivers alone but also affects ordinary private drivers in South Africa.

In addition to fatigue, truck drivers grapple with various other health and wellness challenges, including inadequate access to medical facilities along routes, insufficient health and wellness amenities at truck stops, inadequate sleeping accommodations at stops, unhealthy dietary options, lack of proper ablution facilities, a sedentary lifestyle leading to obesity and cardiovascular ailments, and feelings of isolation and loneliness due to separation from family and friends, impacting their mental well-being.

Gathering truck drivers from all provinces alongside fleet/human resources/risk managers, and engaging with nearly 400 delegates, the event provides cutting-edge insights into nutrition, exercise, and mental health through interactive discussions, on-site activities, and comprehensive medical evaluations.

The Symposium will feature an interactive exhibition offering complimentary medical assessments including optometry certificates, national medical certificates, and free spectacles, along with HIV, glucose, and diabetes testing. Drivers can also enjoy head, neck, and shoulder massages for relaxation. The event will showcase the latest electric trucks and trucking technologies.

The symposium is set to be the first of several initiatives to bring about change for truck drivers in South Africa.