Road conditions and driver behaviour are the main reasons behind accidents involving trucks in South Africa.
This according to the 2023 Webfleet Road Safety Report, which highlights safety factors, challenges and solutions faced by transport operators.
The study, which was conducted between June and August 2023, recorded an increase in collisions.
It showed that truck drivers understood safety measures better and were not the cause of the collisions as compared to the previous year.
The responses were gathered from 54 individuals representing 7, 948 trucks in the country.
According to the report, which Sunday World has seen, other vehicle drivers still struggled to understand physics of a truck on the road.
Justin Manson, Webfleet sales manager, said they were able to identify persistent patterns.
He said they advised stakeholders to use the information to curb collisions involving trucks on the roads.
“As for poor road conditions, that seems to be a problem across the board. We know that it is an issue,” said Manson.
“The figures of poor vehicle maintenance this year are quite high.
“They are definitely a factor contributing to compromised road safety for the trucking industry in South Africa.”
The report showed that other challenges included compliance at 44.44%, fatigue management at 22.22%.
Vehicle compliance management stood at 22.22%.
Manson highlighted that criminal activity was a rising, yet concerning factor in the freight industry.
He said they were still researching the leading factors behind it.
Criminal activity, human error
“The fact that it didn’t pop up in last year’s survey is quite surprising, we do know that criminal activity does cause accidents.
“And then the other issue revealed in this year’s survey is human error, especially when it pertains to driver fatigue.
“It helps to identify which aspects of road freight can be improved by the industry itself.
“This can be either through better management, the use of technology and better training of drivers,” said Manson.
Layton Beard, Automobile Association spokesperson, said road laws were not enforced as they should be.
He added that this has created less respect for road traffic laws.
This was the reason behind crashes that have seen fatalities and serious injuries, he said.
Beard emphasised that truck owners and drivers should take responsibility to avoid more human error collisions.
“Fleet owners and managers should be aware of the negative consequences of poor road safety.
“They should go to great lengths to ensure that drivers and vehicles are properly prepared for the road,” said Manson.
Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations’ chief director, Mike Fitzmaurice, lamented corruption.
Corruption and criminality
He said it was about time criminality and corruption were filtered out in the South African Police Services, Road Traffic Management Corporation and municipal traffic departments.
“The amount of abuse of the traffic laws within the National Road Traffic Act by law enforcement agencies remain extremely high.
“The number of truck hijacking incidents involving accosters impersonating police in fake branded vehicles is equally worrying.
“These and other ills impeding the road freight industry require urgent attention by the government,” said Fitzmaurice.