Hollard Trucking’s annual competition to identify and richly reward South Africa’s best truck driver – this year’s winner will take home R100 000 – has officially kicked off, with a thought-provoking (and sometimes thrilling) launch event in Johannesburg.
The competition’s 2019 sponsors and partners, former Highway Heroes winners, fleet owners, media and other guests gathered at The Dome in Northgate for the event, marking the start of the competition’s fifth iteration.
This year’s sponsors include Fidelity SecureDrive, the Transport Sector Retirement Fund (TSRF) and Ctrack. Highway Heroes has also partnered with MasterDrive, SA Long-distance Truckers, the Road Freight Association and Arrive Alive.
Event MC Macfarlane Moleli, in opening proceedings, stressed the fact that road safety is a central element of Hollard Highway Heroes.
“By improving driver skills and promoting better driving, Highway Heroes delivers benefits for us all. It’s good for truck drivers, who have fewer accidents. It’s good for fleet owners, who enjoy lower maintenance costs and fewer insurance claims. It’s good for Hollard – of course – because it has fewer claims to process.
“And ultimately it’s good for you, me and those dearest to us, because our roads are safer places. That’s what sets Hollard Highway Heroes apart from virtually every other sponsored competition: it has value and positive outcomes for everyone, not just the people who participate in it,” said Moleli.
In a special panel discussion, featuring Hollard Trucking head Wayne Rautenbach, Fidelity SecureDrive general manager Maria Heraty, TSRF trustee Mandla Nkosi, Ctrack managing director Hein Jordt and MasterDrive managing director Eugene Herbert spoke about their support for Hollard Highway Heroes.
Herbert said the competition “is a demonstration of road safety at its best” that, appropriately, targets end users: drivers and fleet owners. He added later that “it’s the behaviour of the driver we need to change, because it’s the one changing variable”.
Nkosi, whose fund represents 70 000 members and more than 3 000 employers, and is actively investing in improving conditions for truck drivers, said: “This initiative resonates with our strategy.”
He continued: “It’s important that we focus on knowledge sharing and sharing skills development … For us, it’s important that our drivers are skilled adequately, and the public are better informed.”
Speaking about technological advancements that impact the future of the transport sector, Heraty, quoting Fidelity Security Group chief technological officer Carel Wessels, said “the adoption of smart mobility technology is likely to increase in the next three to five years”.
“New vehicles are likely to become vastly more intelligent, using more and more sensors to collect data that can be converted into actionable information,” she said, predicting also that in the years to come, all vehicles will be self-driving.
Jordt, whose company this week launched Ctrack Iris, a video monitoring solution for trucks and other vehicles, said the major causes of accidents included speed and drivers not wearing their seatbelts – which technology such as Iris could help prevent.
Asked about why Hollard Trucking stages the Highway Heroes competition, Rautenbach said: “As an insurer, we have a vested interest in the trucking industry.”
Apart from the competition giving back to the industry, it also addresses a key element: the truck driver. Hollard has observed “a marked difference” in driver behaviour as a result of Highway Heroes, and that after the competition drivers tend to keep driving better.
“Good driving is habit-forming,” said Rautenbach.
Hollard Highway Heroes also received praise from FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary, who said the competition highlights to fleet owners the bottom-line benefit of better driving. He said operators should be targeted around issues such as driver and road safety.
When proceedings ended, the guests were invited to participate in a few heart-stopping simulations provided by MasterDrive, so that they could grasp the dangers that truck drivers face on a daily basis.
This included riding in a roll-over truck – a loaded tanker fitted with raised side wheels to prevent it from overturning completely – that showed how easily a truck can roll. Travelling at only 30km/h, the truck would tip as soon as a MasterDrive instructor performed an evasive manoeuvre.
Entries for Hollard Highway Heroes are open until 31 May 2019. For more information, rules and the entry form, please visit the Hollard Highway Heroes competition page on the Hollard website.