In a country whose roads have been ranked the best in Africa by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for five consecutive years, it is generally accepted that 85-90% of road crashes are attributed to driver error.
About 13% of motor vehicle accidents and car crashes involved Taxi sedans and Taxi Buses, a statistic that stands out, particularly since a large proportion of Namibians rely on public transport to commute to and from work or travel long distance. Errors in judgement, driver recklessness and driver inattention – are often factors attributed to drivers of sedan taxis and busses in the country – leading to collisions.
It is for these reasons that Vivo Energy Namibia, the marketer and distributor of Shell-branded fuels and lubricants, recently teamed up with the Namibian Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) to design a Defensive Driving and Basic First Aid Course, specifically for Bus and Taxi Drivers.
The objective of the Defensive Driving training was to provide skills to taxi drivers to help them maintain an awareness of road and weather conditions, other vehicles, road users and potentially hazardous situations and then taking steps to prevent becoming the cause of or becoming involved in a road crash.
Day 1: Defensive driving course
Saturday, 10 September proved a perfect day to conduct the first intake of training for taxi and bus drivers. Selected after a public call from the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA), 25 drivers arrived at the Lafrenz Training Centre at 8h00 to start the course, offered by DriveWell Driver Training Academy.
DriveWell Trainer, Alu Hailonga, used the morning session to define the principles of a Defensive Driver and the importance of the concept in preventing collisions on the road; before delving into the skills and techniques required - called defensive driving.
“When driving defensively, we’re aware and ready for whatever happens. We are cautious, yet ready to act and not put our fate in the hands of other drivers.” said Alu Hailonga.
The afternoon session covered topics such as techniques on sharing the Roads safely, avoiding others who are driving aggressively, driver alertness, allowing time and space; and ensuring that the vehicle and his/her intentions are also visible on the road.
This proved to be an interactive session with the drivers learning new techniques on how to be safer by applying the OAPA approach – Observation, Anticipation, Planning and Action.
Day 2: Turning taxi drivers into useful first respondents at accident scenes
The following day saw instructors from OSH-Med International conduct a Basic First Aid training course, providing invaluable lifesaving skills for the drivers. While none of the drivers had ever taken a First-Aid course before they all acknowledged that they had in fact been in situations where First Aid skills were required.
The drivers were taught the principles of emergency care, safety and emergency scene management, artificial respirations, CPR, airway obstruction, wounds and bleeding, fractures, burn wounds and trauma. The course was offered through practical demonstrations and participation by all the drivers.
At the end of the day the Drivers were all supplied with Emergency First Aid kits to keep in their vehicles and for practical use as certified First Aiders.
Commenting on the training, Corporate Communications Manager at Vivo Energy Namibia had this to say: “It is true that Road safety initiatives in the recent past have been more reactive and therefore not as effective. Defensive Driving for public transporters presents a more proactive approach and places the competency, skill and responsibility into the hands of the driver.”
“At Vivo Energy, we strongly believe that the public transportation sector plays a big role in ensuring safer roads and saving lives. This is the very reason that we will continuously look at sustaining a programme such as this Defensive Driving and First Aid course as it has proven to yield positive results”, Nafidi added.