Truck accidents are a daily occurrence on SA's roads. Dave Johnston, a consultant for the Matrix Road Safety Foundation, believes these accidents could have been prevented, had the drivers adhered to the basic road rules. “There is a major problem with truck drivers not adhering to road rules and driving vehicles that are not roadworthy,” he says.
To put it in perspective, on 30 April, at around 6pm, three trucks collided on the R24.
“This major collision during the long weekend resulted from a classic combination of excessive speed, driver inattentiveness and inadequate following distance,” he says. Three trucks ended up rear-ending each other, and emergency personnel at the scene had to use cutting tools and winches to free two of the drivers, who were trapped as a result of a blunt-force collision. “The first truck in the queue had been stationary and positioned in the left lane of the busy highway. The second and third trucks rammed into the first one at excessive speed,” he adds.
Then, on 8 May, the Matrix Road Safety Foundation was called to the scenes of yet another two truck accidents. “The first accident took place at around 12pm at the intersection of North Reef and Germiston Roads. A hijacked construction truck skipped a red traffic light and collided with a transport truck. The injured hijacker then attempted to hijack another vehicle at the intersection and ended up fleeing on foot. The hijacker is still at large. It is suspected he has a facial injury. The passenger of the transport truck sustained mild injuries and was treated by Emer-G-Med paramedics. Subsequently, approximately 400 litres of diesel then spilled onto the road and the intersection had to be closed as the diesel made the intersection very dangerous,” says Johnston.
The second incident took place at around 2:10pm, on Edenvale Road, over the R24. The driver of a Mercedes was stopped at a red traffic light. A truck then drove straight into the back of the Mercedes when the driver failed to observe that the traffic light was red.
Then, only a day later, the N1 South came too a standstill at around 4:10pm, when the brakes of a transport truck allegedly locked up, causing the truck driver to lose control and plough into 15 cars waiting in the late afternoon traffic. Fortunately, there were no major injuries.
“While the one incident does involve a hijacking, it is apparent that we are seeing daily accidents on our roads as a result of reckless driving by truck drivers. Owners of truck fleets need to take responsibility and invest in adequate training for their drivers. They also need to ensure that the vehicles are roadworthy and that their drivers are not being overworked, which results in driving fatigue and accidents,” says Johnston.
He warns truck drivers to adhere to speed limits. “Trucks should have an adequate three-second or longer following distance and should be driven at a speed from which they can be stopped safely. Also, the emergency lane is for emergencies and should not be used as a stopping or loading lane. This is especially important to remember on the highways. Should the vehicle break down, make sure you use warning flashers and reflective triangles to warn traffic.
“The damage done when a truck is involved in an accident is often more significant than that of a regular vehicle. Lives are lost and people get injured. Now is the time to put a stop to all these truck accidents and make our roads safer for all,” concludes Johnston.
For more information on the Matrix Road Safety Foundation, go to www.matrix.co.za.