Our roads are taking a beating, and without regular maintenance of both roads and commercial vehicles, horrific accidents will increase.
According to Kate Elliot of Right to Repair South Africa, data shows a 48% growth in road freight transport over the past 10 years. Thirty-four percent of this is done utilising the N3. The increase in serious truck accidents on this road has raised serious concerns with government and local organisations.
She stressed the fact that the guidelines to drive fair competition and protect consumer interest, also apply to commercial fleets, and it is imperative that fleet managers consider the costs and quality of fleet maintenance.
The guidelines are there, and many organisations have agreed to them, but consistent compliance and more importantly, monitoring and inspection measures, are lacking.
Ferose Oaten, the national chairperson of the Vehicle Testing Association, concurs, saying there is no regular regime of roadworthiness testing for nearly 80% of the vehicle population. She says vehicles are required to have a statutory roadworthy test on change of ownership. In the case of trucks and taxis, that testing requirement is annual, and for buses, it is every six months.
She reiterates that owners must perform regular inspections of their vehicles. Provincial and local authorities should support this through the regular staging of roadside inspections during roadblocks as prescribed by the law.
“The reality is that we have an aging vehicle population and this extends to commercial vehicles as well. According to the Department of Transport, only 14.68% of trucks are less than three years old. A large percentage, 55.22%, are older than 10 years, 25.49% are older than 20 years and 3.72% are older than 30 years. While an older vehicle can of course be safely used for many years, this requires careful maintenance and care. Considering the exaggerated consequences of a crash involving a heavy commercial vehicle, compared to private vehicles, keeping these vehicles well maintained and roadworthy is of vital importance,” said Elliot.
It is possible to find more affordable service providers who still provide quality. This will ease the burden on fleet owners, improve the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles and hopefully reduce the number of accidents, especially over the holiday season.
“Remember, trucks have a longer stopping distance, a larger turning radius and less manoeuvrability than passenger vehicles,” concluded Elliot.