A Truck Stop is an eating establishment, usually located near a busy road, with a large parking area for trucks and other heavy vehicles. The stop usually offers a range of services for professional truck drivers to rest and refresh themselves, often with accommodation and other services available.
In South Africa the road traffic data indicates that:
- In January 2006 more than 244 000 trucks were moving freight across the country.
- In January alone 1 875 trucks were sold – an indication that road freight transport is growing with enormous speed.
- There is a high rate of accidents and one of the factors that have been identified as contributing to this problem is fatigue, and this includes truckers, especially with the distances they have to travel transporting goods.
- There is a need for convenient, safe and comfortable truck stops on all major road freight routes around South Africa.
Research on Drowsiness / Driver Tiredness amongst Truck Drivers
Driver tiredness poses a significant risk to road safety – and several studies have indicated that this problem is experienced daily by Truck drivers
- In a study in the US more than 36 percent of truck drivers said that finding a rest area in which to park is a problem every night.
- More than 80 percent said that at least once a week, they continue to drive past the point of feeling "safe and alert" because they cannot find a place to stop and rest.
- Factors which discouraged Truck Drivers from parking in public rest areas in New York included inadequate parking, enforcement of the two-hour parking limit, prostitution, lack of security, and poor or expensive food.
- In a 1997 survey of 593 long-distance truck drivers randomly selected at private truck stops and public rest areas in New York, 25 percent of the drivers said that at least once during the last year, they had fallen asleep while driving - and 17 percent said it occurred on more than one occasion.
South African Research:
In South Africa a research study has been conducted by Nelisiwe Magubane & Mala Ramanna from the Interdisciplinary Accident Research Centre of KwaZulu –Natal on the topic “Truck Drivers and Road Crashes in South Africa”
This study concluded amongst other findings:
- Main problems experienced by truck drivers: 39% Fatigue related
- Main causes of road crashes: 41% fatigue related
The recommendations from this research include the following:
- There should be government legislation that forces drivers to stop between 11pm and 5am for compulsory rest. Most drivers sleep for +-4hrs per 24hr.
- Companies should allow drivers more family time. This will stop the use of prostitutes but also de-stress drivers.
- More safe and clean truck stops are needed. Alternatively, along the route there should be lay-bys constructed with stadium lights and security so that drivers can sleep in relative safety. This is especially so on the N3 because drivers regard this national highway as dangerous.
- Trucks should be fitted with communication devices, e.g. two-way radios. This can act as a mechanism to warn other drivers of possible hijacking situations or as a tool to ensure the safety of the truck and driver.
- Almost all truck drivers are interested in participating in any government road safety strategy that will improve and promote their skill.
- Drivers need to attend regular driver training courses to improve their skill as well as stop complacency. Further, there should be relevant training courses for truck drivers that carry specialized/ dangerous goods e.g. chemicals.
HIV / Aids and Truck Drivers
- The transfer of HIV/ Aids and sexually transmitted infections is a growing concern in the transport industry.
- These threats can only be addressed by way of the partnerships of our society: government and the private sector; workers and management; transport operators and commuters.
- Truck Stops can be an important part of the strategy to protect Truck Drivers against these and other illnesses and provide information on these risks
Transport Authorities, Truck Stops and Road Safety
- At the opening of Engen Highway Junction on the 28th of May 1999, the Minister of Transport, Mac Maharaj, emphasized that the road freight sector and its associated stakeholders were the first business sectors in South Africa to forge ahead in a partnership with government, employers, unions and NGOs on board to tackle the crisis of road safety in the road freight industry.
- In 2005 the Department of Transport launched the National Freight Logistics Strategy.
- This Strategy addresses issues of “reducing the cost of logistics to the economy" and ensures "that social and economic objectives are met within the freight logistics systems".
- The commitment to the National Freight Logistics Strategy was further strengthened with the official opening of the Ventersburg Truck Stop by Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe on the 3rd of March 2006.
- Government, via the Department of Transport (DoT) and the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) have initiated a programme whereby new truck stops are being built to improve truck transport efficiencies and driver job satisfaction, while simultaneously empowering local communities.
- Nazir Ali, CEO of the South African National Road Agency reiterated that these Truck Stops represent a coming together of different departments of government to promote road safety and trucker rights.
Advantages/ Characteristics of modern Truck Stops
- The best way to address driver fatigue/ driver tiredness by offering a good sleep
- Security systems with cameras and lighting can prevent the threats of hijacking, theft etc
- Increased sanitation with spotlessly clean ablution and shower facilities
- High quality food
- An excellent venue to address HIV education
- An opportunity to boost the local economy with a continuous stream of travellers passing through
- Additional income for local business providing truckers with various necessary services including food and drink, groceries as well as truck repair and parts provision.
- A Medical facility and medical care provide an opportunity for truck drivers to check HIV/AIDS and diabetes status and have their eyes tested."
- These facilities may have phones so truckers can safely call families and conduct other business during their meal breaks
- Modern Truck Stops have high speed wireless internet access and an internet kiosk
It is envisaged that Trucks Stops will make a significant contribution towards road safety in South Africa.