Truck drivers urged to use road with great caution to avoid fatalities

Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Gabisile Shabalala has once again called on motorists, especially truck drivers, to use the road with great caution to avoid fatalities. She said road crashes could be avoided if motorists exercise caution and obey rules. This, after an accident involving a Sedan and a truck on the R23 between Balfour and Greylingstad near Sprucewell, claimed three people on Tuesday.

According to an eyewitness, the Sedan crashed on the backside of the truck, which then overturned and rolled over the passenger vehicle. The three who died at the scene include the Sedan driver and two passengers, while the truck driver walked away unharmed. Meanwhile, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) together with Santam has since collaborated with its stakeholders to raise road safety awareness and driver wellness focusing on long-distance truck drivers.

Santam, South Africa's largest general insurer and the RTMC are determined to promote heavy vehicle road safety to reduce the number of preventable truck accidents. According to the RTMC's spokesperson Simon Zwane, heavy load vehicles with a mass of 3.5 tons or more were involved in 4% of crashes resulting in 1 250 deaths in 2019. "Now in its third year, the partnership aims to raise awareness around fatigue and health issues that have a direct impact on truck accidents," Zwane said.

The Head of Heavy Haulage at Santam, Anton Cornelissen, said he believes that road safety is the domain of everyone, not just government. "Further advancement of the country's road safety initiatives, such as driver and pedestrian behaviour, as well as awareness of the sector's economic benefits are extremely important," Cornelissen added. Cornelissen said that truck drivers work under unique physically demanding conditions, which puts them at increased risk of a range of chronic health conditions, including diabetes and hypertension.

These conditions coupled with fatigue can negatively affect the reaction time and significantly increase the risk of collisions, he explained. The partners are calling on truck drivers to get enough rest and a minimum of six hours of sleep before a long trip. "They should also not drive continuously for more than five hours and follow this up with a break of at least 15 minutes."

Zwane is encouraging fleet operators to prioritise the health and wellness of truck drivers as the festive season approaches, which is characterised by a high fatal crash rate.

(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)

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