The lenient laws governing truck ownership and usage, combined with a lack of quality maintenance on trucks may explain the number of truck related road accidents and fatalities witnessed on the South African roads.
This is according to Mike De Lange, owner of the Mike De Lange Service Centre and a member of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) who specialises in the servicing of trucks.
“Anybody can buy a truck and put an underpaid and unskilled driver behind the steering wheel. This is resulting in major risk on our roads,” he said. “The industry is also being compromised due to some players hiring and repairing on the cheap and then offering the cheapest quote possible for their services, undercutting other players.”
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, a total number of 36 major crashes involving trucks were investigated in 2016, with a total of 143 fatalities and 136 injuries resulted from these accidents.
These involved 49 trucks in total, 35 light motor vehicles and 11 minibuses.
De Lange believes that drivers should be receiving special training besides the requirements needed to get a code 14 license. His concern is that the process is not done properly and owners of trucks and their drivers do not seem to understand the importance thereof.
Vishal Premlall, Director of MIWA, agreed with De Lange saying the number of truck accidents each year was unacceptable.
“You just need to drive on any of our major highways to see that many trucks are not roadworthy and not being maintained. Besides the obvious accident risk these vehicles present, there is also the pollution factor and potential loss of cargo and damage to property when accidents happen. The answer is regular maintenance and better training,” he said.
Premlall cautioned against a new trend of truck drivers driving on the fast lanes, despite their trucks being limited to lower speeds. “Young and inexperienced drivers often don’t fully understand the mechanical condition of the truck nor the safe braking distances needed to stop the truck in the event of an emergency. Caution needs to be taken to ensure our roads are safe.”
He concluded that there needs to be a clamping down from authorities on unroadworthy trucks and reckless drivers.