N3 mobile clinic to help truck drivers spending strenuous hours on the road

In this file picture, trucks can be seen lined on the N3.Truck drivers spend long strenuous hours on the road to the detriment of their health which could account for the high accident numbers they are involved in.

For this reason, the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) has a mobile clinic at the Mooi River toll plaza. In about 15 minutes, truck drivers can have their cholesterol, blood pressure and eyes tested free of charge by nurses at the mobile clinic. Praveen Sunderlall, the N3TC roads incidents management systems manager at the toll gate, said the driver wellness programme was important because of the high number of truck accidents on the road.

From January to October, there have been 501 heavy vehicle crashes on the N3, which amounted to 50.2% of all crashes. This was up from 44.8% from last year. The 501 crashes that involved heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses resulted in 45 deaths this year.

For drivers like Thulasizwe Maseko, the health check-ups on the side of the busy highway are important as he never has time to visit a doctor. “The wellness programme is important for drivers. We are on the roads for long.

We work abnormal hours. You are always pushed to work harder,” Maseko said. The driver from the Free State said: “I’ve been on the road from October 7 until now.

That is two months on the road. “I drive every day and only rest on Saturday. There is so much pressure to get to deliver goods quickly, and that is bad for our health.”

One of the nurses, Innocentia Mabunda, said drivers were sometimes reluctant to do health check-ups as they were under pressure to get to their destinations quickly. Mabunda added that one of the most common health issues for truck drivers was obesity, which led to conditions such as cholesterol and hypertension. “They don’t eat well and they never have time to exercise so they gain a lot of weight.

“That’s why they have to be checked for cholesterol. Once tested, we teach them how to eat more healthily even though they are always on the road,” she said. Mabunda said drivers found to have serious medical conditions were sent to the nearest clinic.

Sunderlall said: “Truck drivers systematically have health problems and they usually find out when it’s too late, when they cause accidents. “For some of the truck drivers, this is a godsend. They don’t have the time to go to a clinic to do health checks.

“There are some drivers who are apprehensive to get the health checks because they are under pressure from their management to reach their destinations quicker.

“Those are the truck owners we want to get a message to: make sure your truck drivers are healthy.”

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