Call to ban en­ergy drinks for truck and taxi drivers, just like al­co­hol

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN • More on www.fleet­board­train­ing.co.za/truck­ing-well­ness.

AS part of its ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing trans­port month, MercedesBenz SA hosted fleet op­er­a­tors from KwaZulu-Natal at a Truck­ing Well­ness pre­sen­ta­tion in Dur­ban.

Themba Mthombeni, op­er­a­tions direc­tor at Truck­ing Well­ness, told the truck op­er­a­tors the well­ness pro­gramme has guided over 20 000 drivers to take con­trol of their phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

He said Mercedes-Benz com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles is a prin­ci­pal part­ner of the na­tion­wide pro­gramme and to date they have es­tab­lished 22 clin­ics on SA’s ma­jor routes, backed by 15 mo­bile clin­ics serv­ing truck stops and fleet busi­nesses on sec­ondary routes.

Ju­dith Bester of Truck­ing Well­ness said med­i­cal check­ups by ex­pe­ri­enced nurses and coun­sel­lors are avail­able gratis at all these stops, from 6 pm to mid­night.

She said the pro­gramme has since 2000 evolved from just fo­cus­ing on com­bat­ing aids to now pro­vid­ing drivers with 14 ba­sic build­ing blocks to main­tain healthy life­styles and re­la­tion­ships.

Nu­tri­tion is one of these blocks and Bester said the data from the 37 well­ness clin­ics show drivers con­sume too much sugar and do not drink enough wa­ter, while many rely on the slow poi­son of so­das and en­ergy drinks to stay awake be­hind the wheel.

She ex­plained to the as­sem­bled fleet op­er­a­tors how sug­ary drinks spike their en­ergy lev­els for a few min­utes, only to then drop these lev­els into a lethar­gic state, which can lead to crashes.

“In my opin­ion, fleet op­er­a­tors should have a pol­icy of no en­ergy drinks, just as they have for al­co­hol,” said Bester.

Jenny Rus­sell of Di­a­betes SA in Dur­ban echoed Bester’s warn­ings on the slow toxin that is sugar and added starch to the list.

She said ev­ery over­weight per­son who gets lit­tle ex­er­cise and eats mostly starchy food — in other words most drivers — were at risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes.

Rus­sel warned this chronic dis­ease is al­ready the num­ber two killer in KwaZulu-Natal, where on av­er­age six am­pu­ta­tions a day are done be­cause of di­a­betic com­pli­ca­tions.

She called on fleet op­er­a­tors to equip their drivers to check their glu­cose lev­els daily and their eye­sight an­nu­ally.

“Di­a­betes is very dan­ger­ous and a chronic con­di­tion, but the symp­toms can be greatly re­duced by eat­ing a lot less starch and no sugar, and mon­i­tor­ing your glu­cose lev­els,” Rus­sel said.

Spokesper­son for MercedesBenz com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, Sibusiso Mk­wanaze, in­vited fleet and taxi op­er­a­tors in KwaZulu-Natal to send their drivers to the Truck­ing Well­ness clin­ics, or ar­range for a clinic to come to them.

“We of­ten hear the adage, ‘with­out trucks, the econ­omy stops’, but it should be with­out healthy drivers, the econ­omy stops. We in­vite all fleet op­er­a­tors, from taxis to trucks, to check on our web and then send their drivers for a med­i­cal checkup. It is free and the drivers can ar­range to get medicines at these cen­ters for con­di­tions rang­ing from Aids to hy­per­ten­sion and di­a­betes,” Mk­wanaze told Wheels.

PHOTO: LOUISE SCRAZZOLO

Car­ing for the health of SA’s drivers, (back, from left) Thuthuka Xulu from the National Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil; Ravesh Sun­thka­mar, City Lo­gis­tics; Feizal Ko­lia, Uni­trans Dur­ban; Dave Goven­der, Cross­moor Trans­port; Selby Siyaya, Freight­max; Ryah Pokhun and Shaylen Pa­day­achee, Cross­moor Trans­port; Umesh Sew­sunker, Uni­trans Dur­ban (front) Sanele Zu­mani, Bar­loworld Trans­port; Man­disa Zondi, National Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil; Joseph Zondi, Gar­den City Com­mer­cials; Cai­phus Manet­shana, Uni­trans Dur­ban, Themba Mthombeni, Truck­ing Well­ness.

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