Truck Safety and Brake & Tyre Watch

Introduction

When sharing information on the highly commendable Brake &Tyre Watch initiative we would also like to offer important insights to the importance of transportation of cargo by heavy vehicles in South Africa.

The following facts make for interesting reading:

  • South Africa has the 10th largest road network in the world.
  • Our rail system has come under much criticism in recent years resulting in much more cargo now being transported by road on trucks.
  • At the end of April 2016, according to data from EnaTIS, there were 368,905 registered trucks (Heavy load vehicles GVM > 3500kg) on our roads.
  • On the N3 approximately 30% of all the vehicles using this route are trucks.

Contributing causes of road crashes

We refer to the major contributing causes of road crashes as Human Factors [85%], Vehicle Factors [10%] and Environmental Factors [5%].

But what if the vehicle is overloaded / incorrectly loaded or driven at a wrong speed for the conditions causing it to crash into other road users. Are we too fast at identifying brake and tyre failure as “vehicle factors” and what blame do we apportion to the driver or owner of the truck?

There are also other important questions we need to raise:

  • Could the logistics industry or effective traffic enforcement by our traffic officers have prevented such a road crash?
  • Are our traffic officers fully equipped with the knowledge to identify "vehicle errors" and remove non-roadworthy trucks from our roads?

In recent years we have seen several horror fatal and multiple vehicle crashes involving trucks, most notably crashes that occurred in Pinetown, Alberton and Randfontein. The consequences of these crashes are devastating and requires a continuous commitment towards preventative measures from both traffic authorities and the road freight industry.

How to we make heavy freight transport safer?

Public Private Partnerships are the best way to ensure safer trucking. It requires effective enforcement from enforcement agencies and continuous attention to aspects such as vehicle maintenance and driver training from logistics and trucking companies.

One of the best examples of such a private public partnership is the Fleetwatch Brake and Tyre Initiative!

Brake & Tyre Watch

FleetWatch magazine, along with its traditional partners in this project stage the highly successful Brake & Tyre Watch road safety initiative on a quarterly basis nationwide.

Brake & Tyre Watch Background

This initiative is designed to raise transport operators’ awareness around the subject of efficient braking and tyre checking and is linked to preventative maintenance on trucks, including all safety critical items such as lighting, reflectives etc.

The project is also intended to empower traffic officials with specialised knowledge, enabling them to perform better in their profession and intervene more frequently in taking unroadworthy heavy vehicles off our roads.

DATE

LOCATION

INSPECTED

FAILED

%

Feb 2006

Gauteng-City Deep

24

21

88%

Feb 2007

Middelburg

35

24

69%

May 2007

Centurion

41

17

42%

March 2008

Midway KZN

26

10

38%

June 2008

Kroonstad

8

7

92%

Feb 2009

Western Cape

25

25

100%

June 2009

Bloemfontein

54

26

48%

Nov 2009

Pietemaritzburg

12

11

92%

March 2010

Port Elizabeth

16

6

40%

July 2010

Rustenburg

7

5

72%

Dec 2010

Limpopo

11

10

91%

Feb 2011

Estcourt

24

20

84%

June 2011

Northern Cape

24

20

84%

Sept 2011

JHB- Langlaagte

24

18

75%

Feb 2012

Midway KZN

12

11

92%

May 2012

Klerksdorp

16

14

88%

Aug 2012

Tshwane

25

17

68%

Nov 2012

West Rand-Krugersdorp

13

11

85%

Feb 2013

Port Shepstone

9

6

67%

May 2013

Donkerhoek

19

14

74%

Aug 2013

Western Cape

41

19

46%

Nov 2013

Marian HIll - KZN

41

29

71%

Feb 2014

Tshwane

12

4

33%

May 2014

Mpumalanga

13

12

92%

August 2014

Ekurhuleni

32

19

59%

Nov 2014

Heidelberg

10

8

80%

March 2015

Potchefstroom

30

21

70%

May 2015

Ermelo

11

7

64%

Aug 2015

Durban

14

11

79%

Nov 2015

Langlaagte

15

11

73 %

March 2016

Estcourt

10

8

80%

TOTAL

654

442

68%

Brake & Tyre Watch Training Day

Traffic Officials are trained prior to the hands-on testing day. Training is an important component of the project, for it is very difficult to stop a truck in a roadblock and ascertain whether or not the brakes and tyres are functional.

New braking systems are continually being introduced into new trucks coming into the market, therefore our intention is to offer on-going training to traffic officials to help them better conduct their task out on the road. Training is given free of charge in the interest of road safety by our industry Partners.

Each full day’s training session focuses on the quality of brake maintenance and determining braking efficiency, through to tyre faults and general issues. It also includes a practical check with a roadworthy truck and trailer.

Brake & Tyre Watch Practical Test Day Event

Our hands-on test day is held at a Vehicle Testing station in the selected Province. The modus operandi on the day is to randomly select trucks from the closest main route (N1/N3/N4) as well as urban centres and put them through a Brake Roller Test so as to ascertain the state of brakes and braking systems on each vehicle.

The vehicles are also checked in the pit for trailer defects and other faults. In order for us to conduct the tests, we work closely with Provincial Traffic Officials and the SAPS in the selected area. The same Traffic Officials who received training on the previous day assist us in pulling the trucks off the road and into the testing area.

The rationale behind this is that all too often accidents are blamed on two things - either ‘the brakes failed’ or ‘the tyre burst’. FleetWatch contends that brakes only fail if you fail to put your foot on the brake pedal or alternatively when the operator has failed to maintain the braking system. It is the latter area of neglect that concerns us.

It is a sad fact that many operators, due to the pressures to deliver combined with the current negative economic climate, are skipping their scheduled maintenance intervals - a worrying trend with dire consequences. In an effort to avoid an escalation of this trend, FleetWatch publishes the actual results of what we find. Brakes, even though they are a hidden component, together with tyres are the most critical safety items on a vehicle and need to be maintained to the highest standards.

FleetWatch would like to thank each of our partners for their time, effort and dedication to this project. Your passion and commitment goes a long way towards making a difference. As we always say: ‘If it helps to save just one life, it will have all been worthwhile.’

Gallery

Brake & Tyre Watch Partners

Also view:

Sharing the Road with Trucks

Safety around Trucks: A Fleetwatch Initiative

Fleet Management, Logistics and Road Safety

Vehicle Telematics, Accident Investigation and Fleet Management

Collision Investigation and Understanding Brake Failure

Road Safety Checklist for Trucks and Buses

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