Serious about safety 

Serious about safety 

Mitigating South Africa’s poor road safety record is a top priority for JC Auditors (JCA). The certification body has launched five initiatives to engage and distribute resources to truck drivers, completely free of charge.

“The situation on our roads is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” says managing director Oliver Naidoo. “Safety for all road users is a top priority at JCA and we are working year-round to encourage safe driving behaviour.”

JCA’s mission is to empower drivers as part of a wider campaign to increase road safety awareness and participation. According to Naidoo, the growing number of trucks on the road is leaving truck drivers vulnerable. In 2020, at least 4 000 trucks went through Marianhill toll plaza in KwaZulu-Natal. This number has since increased to 6 000 – an incredible 50% rise in just two years, leading Naidoo to question whether we have fully understood the impact of the significantly increased road risks.

“If we, as a country, are to make a mark on our unacceptably high crash rates and subsequent fatalities, then concerted and sustained actions will be required by all stakeholders, which is why JCA is taking a proactive position to raise awareness and support truck drivers,” he says. “This is a key component of the overall road safety strategy which is often severely neglected.”

Driver training

To mitigate risks from the increase in truck volumes and address non-compliance to road safety regulations, JCA has made its online road safety training available to all interested parties at no cost. This training, says Naidoo, will allow drivers to improve their skills and knowledge around road safety in their own time and at their own pace.

The four-hour Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA)-aligned online course is packaged into eight modules of 30 minutes each. Drivers are issued with a coupon to access the online material, which focuses on the key principles of defensive driving, preparing drivers to better respond to the many risks on the road.

The importance of driver training cannot be underestimated, emphasises Naidoo, considering that at least 80% of all crashes worldwide are attributed to driver behavioural issues.

Safety messages

JCA has also launched a safety message service (SMS) for truck drivers. Through this initiative, safety messages are sent continuously to drivers, via their mobile messenger services or WhatsApp. “The messages are all safety orientated and are a constant source of updates, reminders, and information on safety for drivers,” says Naidoo.

A third initiative is the distribution of posters around driver safety. “The posters convey important road safety messages and can be displayed throughout a company’s premises, in break rooms, and even at truck stops, again simply bringing the message of safety to our truck drivers,” says Naidoo. The digital posters are also available at no cost.

Driver empowerment

According to Naidoo, truck drivers ought to be better resourced: “We need to change the culture around road safety. That starts with committed leadership. As companies, we need to elevate the status of our drivers, encouraging them to see themselves as professionals. Drivers in this country are often marginalised and their crucial role is often not fully appreciated.”

At the end of November, JCA hosted its annual Driver Appreciation Day at Highway Junction in Harrismith, where the company interacted with truck drivers, speaking to them about safety and the importance of their profession, as well as thanking them with a small gift. “Raising the profile of truck drivers is a key component of changing the safety culture on our roads,” continues Naidoo. “This year we have also partnered with a medical expert to offer free medical screening to raise awareness of driver health and wellness.”

The fifth initiative is the development of a Truck Safety Survey that will give JCA critical insight into the current state of road safety and keep track of trends and developments on the issue. Using this survey, JCA hopes to monitor the pulse of the transport industry and thus be better able to respond appropriately.

“As an industry, we need to take action and produce real solutions if we are to make our roads safer. We need more initiatives and collaboration from a host of different stakeholders to make a difference,” Naidoo asserts. “As companies, we need to think far more seriously about inculcating a safe driving culture. That includes training, coaching, and providing a conducive environment that embraces road safety. We must take a structured approach to deal with the crisis we have on our roads. There is no silver bullet, but we must start chipping away if we are to avert further disasters on our roads.”

Published by

Jaco de Klerk

JACO DE KLERK is editor of SHEQ MANAGEMENT and assistant editor of its sister publication FOCUS on Transport and Logistics. It’s nearly a decade later, and he is still as passionate about all things SHEQ-related since his first column, Sound Off, which he wrote for this magazine as well.
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