National Driver of the Year Competition Promotes Safety
DRIVING SKILLS and competence were once again under the
spotlight in this year’s annual driver of the year competition, which has been
hailed as the first truly inter-provincial and gender-sensitive national event
to promote safe practices amongst heavy vehicle drivers since it started five
In a colorful, yet somber event that attracted participants
from the country’s nine provinces as well as foreign business and government
representatives, this year’s winners were announced at the International
A moment of silence was observed by delegates at the request
of Minister S’bu Ndebele to remember over 60 people who died on South African
roads in major incidents on the month of October 2003 alone, particularly in
recognition of the fact that drivers are primarily the most important players on
Besides monetary incentives to the tune of R15 000 which went
to this year’s best heavy motor vehicle driver from the North West province,
all the winners in the various categories will represent South Africa in the
forthcoming international driver of the year competitions abroad in 2004.
Thirteen countries from our neighboring African countries,
who contribute to the chaos created by trucks when they use South African roads
to transport their goods, are expected to join the country’s driver of the
year competitions, which is scheduled to be staged at the North West province
The contest has four categories including truck maneuvering,
road test, theory test and pre-trip inspection test. Participants also had to
undergo an eye test to ensure that they had a sound vision.
Speaking on behalf of the competition’s organizing body –
the Road Traffic Education & Communication – Mr KM Arrant thanked the KZN
Department of Transport, particularly its Road Safety team, for their dedication
in making this year’s event a success – "the best so far."
Mr Arrant observed that the competition had seen a gradual
growth over the last 5 years, with 3 provinces taking part in 2000, 5 in 2001
and 8 in 2002, before this year’s hundred percent participation.
In welcoming delegates, Ethekwini municipality’s deputy
mayor Mr L. Naidoo said of the annual driver of the year competition: "This
is a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate the dedication and true
professionalism of so many of our drivers and employees in the heavy transport
industry for coming here from across the country to compete and to create an
awareness of the importance of safety."
He recalled that driver error is either the direct cause or
the crucial contributory factor in approximately ninety-percent of all road
collisions, adding that it is important that the driver is treated as a business
asset and who needs to be constantly developed ‘rather than used as a mere
The deputy mayor regarded the drivers who took part in the competition as
true road safety ambassadors. He called upon owners of heavy vehicles to
maintain them well and train drivers to observe the rules of the road, i.e.
drive at a safe and appropriate speed and be especially mindful of the safe
following distance. Drivers also have to be wary of pedestrians, and they must
not drive under the influence of liquor or drugs, he said.