Arrive Alive figures suggest that 27.5% of accidents on our roads are caused by trucks and light delivery vehicles. Truck accidents accounted for 4.8%.
Although relatively few in number, some truck accidents have made headlines because of the high number of fatalities when a large vehicle loses control.
The direct cost to the economy was recently estimated at R306 billion, which includes clearing accident scenes, hospital care and police time. There are also the indirect costs of work hours lost, delayed delivery and damaged cargos. This cost is materialising in higher vehicle insurance premiums charged by insurance companies.
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Road freight remains the preferred method of transportation for many South African companies because, in comparison to the rail industry, road transport still offers better availability, reliability and cost efficiency.
“Heavy vehicles are therefore integral to efficient supply chains. Without them, the supply chain would be compromised as goods would not reach their markets timeously. Improving the safety record of this vital industry is clearly important. In essence, having trucks on the road will always be beneficial to the country’s economy. The large number of heavy vehicles on our roads makes it therefore imperative that measures are put in place to reduce the number of accidents involving trucks,” says Arnoux Maré, managing director of Innovative Staffing Solutions.
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A combination of regular driver evaluation and corrective training, fleet technology monitoring systems and close management of driver schedules to prevent fatigue and negligence can reduce the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles.
“Innovative Solutions Group recently invested in a Renault Kerax truck to conduct truck driver training for our own drivers and that of our clients. Our process allows us to train a driver every one and a half hours. Not only does our on-site dedicated truck benefit our clients by significantly reducing downtime for their trucks, but it ensures all drivers are properly trained in safety regulations and provided with measures to guarantee their own and others’ safety on the roads,” says Maré.
Dedicated controllers, who each oversee approximately 40 trucks and their drivers, constantly provide feedback on driver behaviour and potential issues that could potentially affect operations.
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Many logistics firms struggle to fill their quota of drivers, which often forces managers to demand longer working hours from them, resulting in driver fatigue. It also means they cannot be taken off their shift for necessary refresher training.
“Fatigue affects truck driver competency in various ways, from slowed reaction times to lack of concentration. Our truck driver training therefore also includes the basics of safety regulations,” says Maré.
He concludes that less fatigue and fewer accidents will result in a decline in delays, increased productivity and an improved bottom line. These assist companies to improve their operating costs and enhance their reputation, among customers.