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