Sep

A plea from FleetWatch Editor

2013-09-12 09:03
Fieldshill

Truckers – Heed our Call to Action‘

Stop the carnage NOW!

Last week’s horror accident on Fields Hill had the country up-in-arms once again against trucks – and understandably so given that 27 died in that awful incident when a ‘runaway’ truck slammed into those vehicles. But why does it take 27 deaths in one accident to solicit such an outcry.

South Africa kills on average 43 people per day on our roads. The Fields Hill incident will be forgotten in a matter of weeks. Harsh comment? No! Remember the collision outside Flora Clinic not too long ago. There was a big hype about it and calls and promises were made about trucks being banned from driving down William Nicol North Drive. Yet trucks are still using that road. By the way, not sure if you know but on the same day as the Fields Hill accident, there was a horror head-on accident involving two trucks on the R25 near Bapsfontein Road. Apparently the one driver’s arm was found on the diesel tank of the other truck. You want more. There are lots more.

Fieldshill2

LEAD FROM TOP

FleetWatch has long been calling for – and acting on – ensuring that adequate law enforcement is in place to ensure that trucks are roadworthy and fit to be on the road; for drivers to be properly trained and for operators to adhere to responsible and ‘Best Practice’ trucking methods. These principles will only be effective if implemented and endorsed from the top – not only by government but by managing directors and managers of trucking companies countrywide. We also need more buy-in from drivers into safe trucking practices. Managers and their drivers need to start working as a team to stop the carnage on our roads.

The FleetWatch Brake and Tyre Watch campaign trains traffic officials countrywide to better equip and enable them to do their jobs more effectively – namely being able to identify and remove unroadworthy heavy vehicles of our roads. To date over 1 000 traffic officials have undergone training at various traffic centres around the country. Of the 450 or so heavy vehicles checked by the team over a seven year period, nearly 70% (around 312) were discontinued. Causes are commonly ‘no’ brakes, unroadworthy tyres, ABS brake system disconnected and a host of other faults. Our last exercise conducted in Worcester some three weeks ago saw us take 23 trucks off the road for testing of which 17 were given Discontinuation of Service notices. Much of this could be rectified if proper maintenance procedures were followed and practiced.

The driver is often the scapegoat which is not right given the wide-spread lack of compliance on the part of truck operators. Drivers are often forced to drive unroadworthy trucks under threat of losing their jobs if they don’t. They are also often forced to drive for long periods without adequate rest and stops. These practices will, without doubt, result in the compromise of road safety and will ultimately affect all road users. The Fields Hill crash is just another disaster in a series of the many other truck accidents that occur countrywide.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Train and maintain! Get informed, train your managers and drivers – and lead from the top to work as a cohesive team on road safety issues. FleetWatch is staging the second ‘Call to Action’ event on October 4 at Shongweni in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The theme of the event is “Improving attitudes and promoting professionalism at all levels of trucking’ and will highlight the following topics, now more pertinent than ever especially in the light of the events at Fields Hill.

  • The Importance of Driver Training – Brian Kerr , Professional Driver Trainer
  • Vehicle Fitness and Safety on the Road – Patrick O’Leary, Managing Editor, FleetWatch Magazine
  • Lessons to be learnt, Safe Trucking on the N3 , Con Roux, Commercial Manager., N3TC
  • How to reduce risks and manage on-the-road risk more effectively – Stan Bezuidenhout, IBF Investigations, a top Forensic Collision Homicide Reconstructionist.
  • And a late but essential addition to the line up is our FleetWatch driver correspondent who, as a full-time professional truck driver, will tell it as it is from the road.

In addition, there will be discussion and input from the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Transport. October is Transport Month. The event will therefore be an excellent forum to discuss the state of play of trucking on the provinces roads. We are proposing an open Forum to take place at the end of the event where all role players will be able to input and exchange ideas with the KZN DOT.

Topics such as truck roadworthiness, effective policing of heavy duty vehicles, driver training, what is available and why it is important, selective road closure for heavy vehicles and other pertinent issues should be on the top of the agenda.

HOW CAN YOU PARTICIPATE AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE

We urge you, as a leading player in the trucking industry to take the lead and ensure you and your clients attend this event. Host a table or tables, invite your clients and encourage them to bring some of their drivers. We know it is difficult to take drivers off the road but what is better – to take them off the road to try improve road safety or to scrape them off the road because we have done nothing.

We urge you ‘Walk the Talk’ – put your hearts in the right place helping to ensure safer roads and to help uplift the trucking industry that is the lifeblood of our economy and the wheels that keep it turning.

Attached please find information and registration forms for further information. We have a number of sponsorship opportunities available. Please call us to discuss if you would like to contribute to making this event a success. We would welcome your ideas and input , let’s join hands once again and show what this industry is made of. Let’s do it!

Please contact me on my email fleetwatch@pixie.co.za or speak to any of our team who can assist. Contact Kendall Harrison, Michelle O’Leary, Stephen Reimers or Eva Mphaphogang who can assist with recommendations for accommodation and program details. All team members can be reached on (011) 794-2490/1.

Yours in safer Trucking

Patrick O’Leary

Editor and Publisher FleetWatch

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