Home FleetWatch 2011 Consider comfort and safety…

Consider comfort and safety…

Consider the comfort and safety of your drivers before buying a particular make of truck.

In this article, FleetWatch’s driver correspondent tells of the wisdom of considering the comfort and safety of your drivers before buying a particular make of truck. For obvious reasons, the driver’s identity is kept anonymous.

In my last article I mentioned that I was made to drive an unroadworthy truck and couldn’t get the faults fixed by the company’s workshops. Also, I spent hours standing in queues without pay. Put the two together and you will understand why I resigned and have now started working for a different company.Things are already looking better for me and I did my first couple of loads with very little standing times. That’s much better than what I experienced at Agriport and Durban Bulk Storage. Also, was made to drive an unroadworthy I will now do loads all over the country truck and couldn’t get the faults as well as into some neighbouring countries so now I can give our readers Also, I spent hours standing in a much wider spectrum of trucking queues without pay. Put the two news from all over. Great hey?

On my first day, my new company gave me an American truck. It was about 10 to 12 years ago that I last Things are already looking better for drove one of these models but the truck me and I did my first couple of loads  they gave me is still new and clean with very little standing times. That’s with only 80 000km on the clock. much better than what I experienced at  Not bad!

East London was my first trip with this American machine and I packed my stuff, did the safety checks, checked the oil and water and jumped in to start the beast and hit the road. To drive this truck for the first time in 12 years is a different feeling and things started running through my mind of the old days when I first drove this specific make.

The truck has not changed much in 12 years. Some of the changes I noticed were the grill, the lower centre floor in the cab, a bigger engine and no gear lever. I really thought this truck had become much better but I’m now really disappointed. Driving down to East London has become a nightmare for me. The truck shakes the living daylights out of me and I feel every small bump or hole in the road. It’s very bad. It really feels like an ox-wagon with absolutely no suspension travel. You must hear this cooling fan when it kicks in. It is a very loud noise, exactly like in the old days. The speakers right next to your head are still the same.

I had some rain on the road and the mirrors fogged up. I looked for the heated mirror switch but alas, no heated mirrors and no electric mirrors. The only thing about this truck that is nice is the bed. Maybe in America the drivers sleep a lot. That may be true but why do they have to build a bed instead of a truck for the South African market where our local drivers spend 20 hours a day behind the wheel and not in bed.Right, I stopped in East London to off load the truck. The forklift driver asked me to reverse into the warehouse. No problem I said and got myself ready for the long reverse up to the warehouse. I start going up and manoeuvred into the ally and up the slight incline where I needed to do clutch control. This is where I really missed the European trucks with their soft clutches and perfect mirrors with maximum visibility that makes manoeuvring a peace of cake.

The clutch on this truck is very hard and the slower I tried to reverse, the more the truck started to ‘˜bok­spring’. I was really peeved off just to think this truck was not only making things really difficult for me but was also making my name ‘˜gatas’. Empty at last and off to Port Elizabeth. I stopped in King William’s Town at Steers for a burger and a coke and then hit the road to PE. No time to sit down and eat. I decided to eat while driving like I always do.

As I’m driving out of King William’s Town on the N2 towards Grahamstown, I opened my coke and put it in the cup holder. I took my burger in my one hand and steered with my left hand. The road was bad and I’m taking it easy doing about 50kph. I started munching on my hammy and the next moment, I started bouncing again. My burger started to fall apart with the tomato landing on my lap, the burger patty on the floor and mustard sauce on the steering. I swore, opened the window and chucked my burger out. With no place to stop, I took a cloth from under my seat and started cleaning. After I wiped off the steering and got everything sorted, I then took my can of coke out the cup holder and, you guessed it, it was wet everywhere. I switched on the cab lights and that’s when I got real ‘˜de moer in’. The coke had spilled over my brand new laptop that was on the floor next to me.

Apart from all this, I have never felt this unsafe in a truck before. Poor brakes, a cab with no suspension that shakes and bumps so badly that your eyes can’t say focussed on the road, poor visibility mirrors, a hard clutch, poor fuel consumption, poor lights, automatic gear box that take ages to decide if the clutch is in or not and then leaves you in the middle of a crossing with motorists shaking their heads at you and giving the middle finger. Ja boet! Now you know back to Johannesburg. If you enjoy a truck on this route then buy it.If, however, it shakes the living daylights out of you, then consider a European make please, or another American one. It’s not you that drives the truck all over our country. It’s your driver. Make sure he has a comfortable and safe truck to drive. Until next time, enjoy safe trucking!

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