KZN truck survey reveals scary data

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 SIGN OF THE TIMES: An articulated truck lies at the bottom of a valley next to the N3 in kwaZulu-Natal. Image: Provincial traffic camera ~
Pietermaritzburg - KZN traffic cops pulled over 24 trucks near here on November 22 and of that number 17 had so many faults they were pulled off the road and suspended from operation.

KZN transport MEC Willies Mchunu said the traffic check was part of "Operation Phezukwabo" (loosely translated, "We are on to them") and part of intensifying law enforcement leading up to the Christmas holidays.

The campaign was focused on the safety of heavy vehicles, especially trucks which have featured in a spate of recent accidents, among them the Pinetown horror that killed 24 people.


Mchunu said: "The fact that a one-day random operation can lead to the suspension of 17 trucks demonstrates the seriousness of the challenge with which we are dealing."

More traffic cops would be visible on KZN roads.

A spokesman for the SA tyre industry asked: "What does that say about the safety of heavy vehicles on South African roads?"

Etienne Human, SA Tyre Manufacturer's Conference CEO and director, told Wheels24: "Tyres are the only parts of a vehicle that are in contact with the road and are critical for road safety. This is especially true of truck tyres that have to support not only the weight of the vehicle but also its load."

The condition of truck tyres would directly affect the steering, braking and overall handling and control of the vehicle, which makes it a key concern and focus area when tackling heavy vehicle safety.

The national transport department, Human said, reported that more than half of vehicle component failure accidents were caused by tyre failure. He added that tyre failure was a major cause of the thousands of road accidents and deaths each year and the use of second-hand tyres was considered one of the biggest culprits.

"Discarded worn or damaged tyres are collected, patched or regrooved, and resold by unscrupulous traders - often with fatal results. Buying from reputable dealers will ensure the quality and safety of your tyres."

Companies that operated a fleet of trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles, Human said, had a legal and moral responsibility to ensure their fleet adhered to safety regulations.

"Truck owners must allow for tyre and truck suspension checks and not just force employees to "keep the driver's seat hot".

Scarily, drivers often aid their owners forced them to continue driving although they had reported a faulty tyre!


*Wheels24 would contest Mchunu's findings. Traffic cops are unlikely to pull over new trucks that are obviously in good condition; their targets would be older vehicles from which they could most likely reap the most in fines.

Saying 17 or 24 such vehicles checked represents the proportion of unroadworthy trucks on SA's roads is a flawed assumption - though that in no way excuses the owners/operators or the trucks pulled off the road.

Take a look at some appalling truck crashes photographed across South Africa.