• November 25, 2014
  • News
Post Series: Bakers Blitz

Road Safety – A Growing Concern In South Africa

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In light of recent tragic events, road safety in the logistics industry is as pertinent a topic as ever. According to a report published by The International Transport Forum in 2013, South Africa has one of the worst road fatality rates in the world. In 2011, a staggering 27.6 road fatalities occurred per 100,000 people. A statistic proved grave when compared to North America and Australia who reported 10.4 and 5.6 respectively.

The report also revealed that these excessive road accidents are costing the South African economy more than R300 billion each year. With such dire economic and emotional costs, it is imperative that the logistics community acknowledges its accountability in the bigger picture of road safety.

Bakers take a firm position on road safety, an issue of paramount importance to us. Acknowledging responsibility and accountability plays a massive role in the prevention and regulation of road accidents. We understand that unchecked road safety issues are detrimental to both business and society, and that the problem extends far beyond business. It’s an issue of saving lives.

Identifying the contributing factors to road accidents is the first step to combatting the problem. Bakers recognize that the main causes of road accidents involving trucks are driver fatigue, vehicle defects, unskilled and inexperienced drivers, and erratic traffic. Initiatives should therefore address infrastructure, vehicle maintenance, and, most importantly, factors relating to driver behavior.

Driver fatigue is a particular problem in the logistics industry both internationally and in South Africa. It is reported that of the main problems experienced by drivers, 39% are fatigue related. Furthermore, 41% of local road accidents are caused by fatigue. For these reasons, Bakers have relief drivers in place, enabling our drivers’ adequate time to re-energise between shifts. We believe this promotes a positive work/life balance and improves overall driver wellness.

At Bakers, we are always looking at new ways to develop strategies that make a big impact, whilst keeping the bigger picture in mind. It is entrenched in every function of our business to see how best we can make a positive difference to road safety.

We are in the final stages of attaining Road Transport Management System accreditation and incorporating it with our business management system. This initiative should be complete in 2015.

Bakers have also suggested that relevant industry stakeholders create forums that can assist the government with its road safety initiatives. We believe that only when each logistics company becomes fully involved in such an initiative and plays its role in understanding and establishing adequate countermeasures to road accidents, can the bigger picture become a positive reality.

In 2015, we plan on sustaining and enhancing our existing safety strategies. We will use telematics to remind drivers to plan their trips and regulate their working hours to prevent driver fatigue. We will also use the latest technology via our control room to alert drivers of lane deviators and safe distance requirements. Frequent refresher training for drivers will ensure that only our most qualified drivers are permitted on the road.

Moreover, we also plan to increase our involvement with the Road Freight Association, as well as key role players within government to improve road safety by sharing our experience. Our driver learnerships will guide the best young individuals to driving careers, whilst ensuring only properly qualified drivers represent Bakers on the roads. Lastly, Bakers will stamp its professional outlook and confidence essential to being a heavy motor vehicle operator.

In the New Year we plan to partner with our strategic suppliers to roll out Road Safety Awareness programs in major provinces for maximum impact, which will highlight prevention methods of road accidents.

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We are encouraged to know that our initiatives and quality driving interventions are adding value. We have received numerous compliments from the public regarding the standard and safe driving of our fleet. One that stands out is from a family:

As a family that spends much time travelling the roads in the Eastern Cape, we often come across Bakers Transport trucks on the roads and I would like to commend the drivers for being so courteous. As a whole, the drivers all drive consistently and safely and where possible, safely give way for vehicles travelling faster than them. Today, travelling from Kenton to Port Elizabeth, we have passed two of your trucks and again have been impressed by their driving. Big thumbs up to a company who is obviously spending money on ensuring their drivers are adequately trained on road skills.

 Chanel Smailes (August 2014)