A road haulage operator in Botswana has been presented with a Global Fleet Champions Award for Company Driver Safety in recognition of its outstanding commitment to road safety.
The award was presented to Unitrans Botswana by Society of Road Safety Ambassadors at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Gabarone, Botswana.
Global Fleet Champions Awards celebrate the best safety and sustainability standards of fleets anywhere in the world, including in low- and middle-income nations where occupational road risk management is in urgent need of promoting and encouraging. The Company Driver Safety Award, sponsored by Allianz, recognises organisations that have implemented initiatives that effectively enable drivers to be safe, and rewards education and awareness-raising initiatives about safe driving that extend beyond employees to their families.
The Company Driver Safety Award was judged by members of the Global Fleet Champions standards committee. The judges commended Unitrans Botswana for creating a culture that encourages every employee and contractor to strive towards the overall objective of ‘Zero Harm’ – through behaviour and commitment that contribute to the reduction of road crashes and the improvement of road safety. Judges praised the organisation’s rigorous driver training programmes, as well as its detailed policies and procedures that champion safe driving behaviours, making it an exemplary role model for other operators working in Botswana and across sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 1.35 million people are killed every year in road crashes across the world and many more are seriously injured. Road crash injuries are the leading killer of young people aged 5-29, according to the latest Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 published by the World Health Organization (WHO).1
The risk of dying in a road crash remains much higher for low- and middle-income countries than high-income countries. In Botswana, the rate of road traffic deaths far exceeds the global rate although it is lower than the average for Africa. In 2016, Botswana’s road traffic fatality rate was estimated at 23.8 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with a global rate of 18.2 deaths per 100,000 people, and the African average of 26.6 deaths per 100,000 people.1
Botswana Police Service report that 462 Batswana died in crashes on the country’s roads in 2018, and a further 1,099 received serious, life-changing injuries.2 The actual figures are likely to be even higher.
WHO has urged the Government of Botswana to revisit its National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, to align it with the latest global road safety targets and other guidelines in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).3
Leading road safety practitioners in Botswana have repeatedly raised concerns about unsafe driving behaviours, particularly the increasing number of drivers who commit traffic offences such as driving without a licence, speeding, using a phone while driving, failing to wear a seat belt, drink driving and failing to obey traffic lights.4,5 They are calling for road safety to be recognised as a national problem that requires dedicated financial investment and human resources to address the social and economic costs to the country.
As well as presenting the award, Society of Road Safety Ambassadors (SoRSA) unveiled its manifesto calling on the Government of Botswana to end deaths and serious injuries caused by road crashes. SoRSA is calling for a national year-round campaign to raise awareness of key road safety issues; a national standard for regulation of driving hours for truck and bus drivers; and high safety standards for the maintenance and condition of all vehicles.
Michael Zano, regional SHEQ manager for Unitrans Africa, said: “We are honoured to receive the first Global Fleet Champions Award for Company Driver Safety, which recognises our stringent efforts to protect the health and safety of our employees and other road users. We are fully committed to reducing the number of road crashes in Botswana and support for children’s road safety is a top priority in our corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. This award strengthens our resolve to do whatever we can to help end the carnage of road death in Botswana and the other nations in which we operate.”
Maatla Otsogile, president of Society of Road Safety Ambassadors, said: “Road safety in Botswana has been ignored for far too long. We need a sustained, committed approach to address the substantial social and economic burden of road crashes in our country – this starts with government recognition that we have a national problem that requires financial investment and human resources. We are delighted to partner with the Global Fleet Champions campaign to stop road deaths and injuries and end pollution caused by work vehicles.”
Mary Williams OBE, chief executive of Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Road crashes are devastating events that rip families apart, and leave communities reeling in shock and victims feeling alone and without hope. Road deaths caused by work vehicles are a global catastrophe. The good news is that these deaths can be prevented through government action, through good policy that controls the management of organisations operating work vehicles on our roads. These deaths can also be stopped by organisations that transport goods and people taking responsibility for safety and saying that they will put safety first. We are delighted to work with SoRSA through the Global Fleet Champions programme to reward Unitrans Botswana for putting safety first.”
Mark Bromhall, road safety manager at Royal Mail and member of the judging panel, said: “Unitrans Botswana’s award entry describes a robust and wide-reaching system for managing occupational road risk. Their investment in driver training is remarkable and their policies to address dangerous driving behaviours are also advanced. The results that they have achieved are evidence that their approaches are working, and they are well worthy of the award.”
Gerry Ross, Head of Commercial Motor, Allianz Insurance said: “We are pleased to support the Company Driver Safety Award. Effectively managing road risks translates into a reduced volume of collisions and safer roads for everyone. It’s imperative that companies are committed to improving road safety by having adequate procedures and policies in place to ensure that employees who drive do so safely and legally.”
1. World Health Organization (2018) Global status report on road safety 2018 www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2018/en/
2. Botswana road crash report, Traffic Police, 2019