Huge congratulations to Themba Vilakazi, a 45-year-old truck driver employed by Fairfield Longhaul in Kwa-Zulu Natal, on winning the accolade of South Africa’s Highway Hero at Regent Insurance’s inaugural Highway Hero awards ceremony held in Delmas, Gauteng.
Vilakazi and the two runners up, Dumisani Nzimande, a driver at Zamalwandle from Gauteng and Michael Madamo Makhubela, a truck driver at Izusa Carriers from Mpumalanga, received R50 000, R25 000 and R12 500 in cash and prizes respectively. The fleet owner of the winning driver, Fairfield Longhaul, also received R25 000 in airtime
Singled out by his employer Dave Street at Fairfield Longhaul as an exceptional driver and reliable employee, Vilakazi is a veteran on the road with over 15 years’ experience and an exemplary safety record.
“I’m feeling very happy and surprised as I never thought I’d win the number one prize. My wife and children will also be surprised. I’m always on the road and have to leave my family for up to three weeks at a time. This is the first time I’ve been recognised and I’m grateful to Regent for giving me this prize,” said a delighted Themba Vilakazi, 2015 winner of Regent’s Highway Heroes Awards.
Commenting on the Highway Heroes project, Wayne Rautenbach, general manager of Regent Commercial Vehicles, said the partnership between truck drivers, fleet owners and insurers is key to improving driver behaviour across the country.
“The truck driver remains at the heart of our industry and business and this project is about celebrating that partnership,” he said, adding that plans are afoot to make this event a key feature on the industry’s yearly calendar in the future,
“Regent’s philosophy is certainly driver-centric and although this differs from industry norms, we believe that a systemic approach improves driver behaviour and in fact, saves lives. But this is just the starting point; aligning driver behaviour with advanced telematics tracking and data is undisputedly the key to success and puts the control back into the hands of both the driver and fleet owner,” continued Rautenbach.
A third of the fleet owners insured by Regent nominated their drivers from across the country and the measurement criteria included a combination of analysing the driver’s telematics data obtained from the fleet owner, a driver assessment test and the details of an event or scenario where the driver behaved as a hero while on the road. An additional C-Track Solo Unit was also fitted and monitored by Regent Bureau for 60 days.
More good news, which FleetWatch wholeheartedly welcomes, is that Regent Insurance has also launched the Highway Heroes Foundation, an initiative that will provide free driver training to partner applicants in 2016. According to Paul Dangerfield, national operations manager of Regent Commercial Vehicles and the driving force behind the Foundation, the Highway Heroes Foundation has been established to promote safe and skilled driving among truck drivers.
“The Foundation plans on introducing a logistical management training module in the future in a bid to further the growth and development of entrepreneurs in the country”, said Dangerfield.
Individuals who are looking to start a career or advance their skills in the areas of safety, driving, logistics and leadership are eligible to apply for a scholarship offered by the foundation. Applicants will be required to provide proof of financial need and motivate for acceptance. The Foundation is expected to be fully operational by March 2016.
It’s all the right stuff and FleetWatch lifts its hat to Regent Insurance for all it is doing to not only honour and pay tribute to South Africa’s unsung heroes but also to pave the way towards a brighter future for truck drivers and the industry as a whole. We salute you!