Minister of Transport unveils first-of-its-kind Truck Driver Safety and Wellness Symposium, supported by Michelin and MICHELIN Connected Fleet

The Minister of Transport, Ms. Sindisiwe Chikunga, hosted over 220 truck drivers at the first ever Truck Driver Safety and Wellness Symposium held in Boksburg on 6 and 7 March. The Symposium themed “Your wellness is our concern” is a collaborative partnership between the private and public sector primarily focused on the mental and physical wellbeing of South Africa’s truck drivers.

In her speech at the inauguration of the Symposium, Minister Chikunga highlighted the important role that the road freight industry plays in the economy – the industry has grown by 48% in the last decade and transports an average of 140 million tonnes of goods each year.

“The United Nations defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The Department of Transport is here to show our truck drivers that we care and that your wellness is our concern – this is truly a pivotal moment in our pursuit of enhancing truck driver health and wellness,” commented the Minister in her speech.

“The month of March marks Human Rights month, which will be commemorated under the theme, Three Decades of Respect for and Promotion of Human Rights which aims to advance human dignity, equality and freedom – to enable a safe and efficient transport sector, we need our truck drivers to be healthy,” she added.

Truck drivers in South Africa face a number of challenges and often have to balance conflicting interests – those of fleet operators driven deliver more goods in shorter periods of time to maximise profits and those of the government who require truck drivers to adhere to road rules.

Research by the University of Witwatersrand found that as many as half of all long-haul truck drivers in South Africa get less than five hours of sleep daily, and work an average of 93 hours per week – well over the maximum 71 hours weekly, mandated by the Labour Relations Act.

It is then not a surprise that 41% of truck accidents are due to fatigue. Fatigue impairs driving skills, making the driverless alert and also impact driver coordination.

Also in attendance were main sponsors of the Symposium, Michelin Tyre Company South Africa represented by B2B Director Charl Lensley and MICHELIN Connected Fleet, represented by Country Manager Shivani Pillay.

“Michelin is fully committed to the global combat against road accidents, we believe we have a responsibility to make mobility safer all over the world and through partnerships like this, we are working to meet this challenge. We are committed to bringing our customers - individuals and professionals alike - tyres that stay safe and high-performing, no matter how many kilometers they have driven.

The only part of a truck that touches the road surface is the tyre and truck drivers are the only aspecting steering trucks on our roads – we need both to be in top condition if we are committed to safer South African roads,” noted Lensley.

 our services and solutions are geared toward improving safety for the truck driver.”

The Truck Driver Safety and Wellness Symposium is held in collaboration with the SaferStops Association (SSA), spearheaded by Nicci Scott Anderson, and 35 other private sector organisations, bargaining councils, health and wellness providers and organisations such as the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Road Freight Association (RFA).

The Symposium has been designed as an interactive and informative experience, emphasising a holistic approach to driver wellness.