And the winner is – Maartin Langeveld, a driver for Kuruman-based Swannies Spoed Vervoer, who last week walked away with the trucking industry’s richest prize of R100 000 after being named the overall Hollard Highway Hero for 2019.
Last year, Langeveld came within a whisker of winning the award. This year, against even greater odds, he proved that he is this country’s most skillful truck driver.
The greater odds arose from the fact that for the first time since the competition was launched, it was opened to all truck drivers irrespective of their insurer. Previously, only Hollard customers’ drivers could enter. As a result of this, a total of 3 153 drivers entered – more than twice the number in 2018 and only 60 shy of the combined 3 213 entries between 2015 and 2018. So the competition was intense.
Hollard Highway Heroes is a competition run by Hollard Trucking, a division of Hollard Insure, to identify and richly reward the best truck drivers in the country. Participants compete in four categories – Tippers, Tautliners, Tankers and Flat Decks – with the category winners ultimately facing off for the grand prize of R100 000. Category winners take home R25 000 each, with the rest of the top 50 drivers also pocketing prize money according to the position they achieved.
And winning doesn’t come easy. Once they’ve been selected for the top 50, these competitors are strictly monitored using telematics for 45 gruelling days by Hollard Trucking’s Risk Services Bureau. They are measured the parameters of speed, harsh braking, fatigue driving (day), fatigue driving (night) and distance travelled.
Also for the first time, Hollard Highway Heroes had industry sponsors. Coming on board this year as sponsors were Fidelity SecureDrive, the Transport Sector Retirement Fund and Ctrack. The competition has also partnered with Arrive Alive, FleetWatch magazine and MasterDrive.
“Hollard Highway Heroes has grown exponentially since its inception in 2015, when only 220 drivers entered and with that, the competition has only become tougher,” says Elka du Piesanie, the Highway Heroes manager.
“This, coupled with the fact that two previous Highway Heroes were again in the running this year, makes Maartin’s win all the more significant. The two previous winners were 2015 winner Themba Vilakazi, who made his fourth appearance in the top 10, and 2017 winner Phillip Mthembu.
Langeveld, who won the Tautliners category in 2018 but was pipped in a tight contest to the top honours by tanker driver Stephen Meje, took the category again this year. But 2019 is his year.
And it’s a big congratulations to the 2019 category winners. They are:
- Tippers: Abraham Motlhoboga Lekgari, McDonalds Transport.
- Tankers: Steven Mbongiseni Ndlovu, Crusade Logistics.
- Flat Decks: Themba Vilakazi, Fairfield Longhaul.
On the point of opening the competition to all, Du Piesanie points out that this was not so much to increase competition but rather to magnify the overall benefits that it affords every road user.
“We all know that more than 14 000 people die tragically on our roads every year. Quite apart from the business benefit of there being fewer accidents involving trucks – and therefore fewer insurance claims – the great beauty of Hollard Highway Heroes is that it actively promotes greater road safety.
“In fact, we’ve recorded a 64% in-competition improvement in driving and because we monitor many of the entrants out of competition, we know that they maintain their good driving habits throughout the year. Not only that, they also have a positive influence on their non-competing colleagues,” she states.
Du Piesanie adds that the new Highway Heroes-linked Hollard Risk Services Loyalty Card, which pays out twice-monthly cash rewards to telematics-monitored drivers for driving well, also encourages good driving out of the competition. In fact, five of the top 10 drivers for 2019 are loyalty cardholders.
“Hollard’s business purpose is called Better Futures. It binds us to create and secure better futures for more people in everything we do and how we do it. I am so proud to say that Highway Heroes does exactly that. It creates better futures for our competition winners, their families, their employers, you, me and everyone else on our roads,” says Du Piesanie.
Just as jubilant about Langeveld’s win is his employer, Ben Swanepoel of Swannies Spoed Vervoer. “I think it’s really a privilege for us to employ Maartin,” says Swanepoel. “He’s an example for everyone here and at the company.”
At a glittering function at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, Langeveld, a driver for Kuruman-based Swannies Spoed Vervoer,
“I told my employer, ‘We’re going to do it this year,’” a beaming Langeveld said after being announced as the 2019 Highway Hero At a glittering function held at Emperors Palace. “And when I made the top 50, there was no turning back.” Langeveld said he planned to use his R100 000 prize money on renovating his home in Kimberley.
About Hollard Highway Heroes
Hollard Highway Heroes has its origins in a driver training initiative by trucking insurance specialist Regent Insurance, which was acquired by Hollard in 2017. Between 2015 and 2017 it was known as Regent Highway Heroes, with Hollard taking over naming rights from 2018.
The competition has grown in leaps and bounds since 2015, when 220 drivers entered, to 3 213 entries this year. It has also changed in format so as to level the playing field across truck types and trucking sectors. In 2018 the four main categories (Tankers, Tippers, Tautliners and Flat Decks) were introduced, each with four subcategories (Long Haul, Short Haul, Cross-border and Route-specific). In 2019 Highway Heroes was thrown open to all truck drivers, irrespective of insurer.
Hollard Highway Heroes offers the following benefits to various stakeholders:
- Truck drivers stand to win prizes that offer life-changing opportunities for them and their loved ones – simply for driving well.
- Fleet owners benefit through fewer accidents, fewer insurance claims, lower maintenance and running costs, and lower insurance costs.
- Hollard has fewer insurance claims to process and pay out.
- The general public – over 80% of whom regularly use our roads – experience fewer accidents and less tragic human loss.
- And South Africa as a country also wins, as the wheels of commerce are assisted to turn smoothly.
While Highway Heroes has shown a 64% in-competition improvement in driving, the Hollard Risk Services Loyalty Card was introduced in 2019 to encourage good driving while out of competition. Twice a month, drivers are paid out cash benefits according to how well they drive. It is notable that five of the 2019 top 10 drivers are loyalty cardholders.