How to solve poor maintenance and bad drivers?
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), 36 major crashes involving trucks were investigated during 2016, from which 143 fatalities and 136 injuries resulted. The accidents involved 49 trucks, 35 light motor vehicles and 11 minibuses.
Mike De Lange, owner of the Mike De Lange Service Centre, a member of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), believes these accidents can be attributed to negligence and a lack of maintenance on trucks.
De Lange, who specialises in the servicing of trucks, says he often sees truck owners trying to save on expenses and not doing regular inspections. “Trucks are not being serviced as regularly as they should be, and to a standard that is good enough for our roads,” he says.
Along with that, De Lange believes that there should be stricter laws with regard to who is allowed to own a truck.
“Anybody can buy a truck and put an underpaid and unskilled driver behind the steering wheel. This is creating a major risk on our roads. The industry is also being compromised by some players who hire and repair on the cheap, and then offering the cheapest quote possible for their services to undercut other players.
“Drivers should be receiving special training besides the requirements needed to get a code 14 licence. I don’t believe this is being done properly. Drivers also do not seem to understand the importance of this,” he says.
Vishal Premlall, director of MIWA, agrees: “Young and inexperienced drivers often don’t fully understand the mechanical condition of the truck, or the safe braking distances needed to stop the truck in the event of an emergency.”
Premlall says the number of truck accidents each year is 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 says.
Premlall says regular maintenance is also the only way to guard against major repairs. “Truck owners may believe they are saving money by avoiding regular servicing, but it ultimately costs far more when a major component needs replacing because it wasn’t properly maintained.
“There are accredited workshops around the country that specialise in truck servicing at affordable rates. It pays to do your homework,” he says.
Premlall adds that authorities need to clamp down on unroadworthy trucks and reckless drivers.
“Trucks are a risk factor on our roads and authorities need to be stricter on how these vehicles are being policed. Handing out fines and releasing dangerous vehicles and drivers back on to our roads is not good enough,” he concludes.