Good physical health makes for good drivers, and good drivers make for safe roads.
Saturday saw jubilant scenes at Nyayo stadium, Nairobi, as winners’ John Leonard Njoroge, (driving for Spanish Coach) in the bus category and Fredrick A. Amakusi (driving for K. B. Sanganhi) in the truck category, received their winner’s trophies.
Humble expectations, high turnout
It was a day of celebration and festivities. Many had taken up the Scania Driver Competitions (SDC) and many more had followed the paths of the final few as the competition came to a head. From initial expectations of perhaps 200 applicants for this first ever SDC in Kenya SDC organisers were astounded by a final figure of 1,265.
Bringing safety centre stage
Although this certainly made the organisers adjust their plans it was just what they’d really hoped for. The ultimate goal of the competition had been to highlight road safety in Kenya. Having so many people getting involved in Kenya SDC ensured that the message got out. Stark governmental figures put road fatalities at 3,000* annually and the World Health Organisation puts the figure as high as 12,000**, Scania’s presence in the country has made it possible to shine a light on this problem area and invigorate discussion and action to change the current situation.
Healthy behind the wheel
In addition to the road safety element of the competition there has been a strong focus on the health of the drivers. “A healthy driver is a safe driver” explains Sofia Nylen, Project Manager, Scania East Africa, “Kenyan long distance truck and bus drivers are in the risk zones of both HIV/AIDS and diseases connected to an unhealthy lifestyle.”
To address the issue of drivers’ health Scania partnered with SWHAP (Swedish HIV and AIDS program) and ILO (International Labour Organisation). During May, applications for SDC were taken along the country’s most trafficked highways. With the support from SWHAP/ILO there was also an opportunity for all drivers (and others) to test: blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), visceral fat in addition to HIV/AIDS tests with personal counselling available if necessary.
Lessons in safety
Underlining the overall goal of SDC, keeping Kenya’s roads safe, the competition included exercises such as defensive driving and routine vehicle safety checks. The majority of road victims are vulnerable road users, Scania partnered with Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and as the challenge entered its final week it entered Scania Road Safety Week. It is hoped that the personal health and road safety lessons learnt from SDC will stay with drivers and visitors alike.
**instant and subsequent deaths