With the government’s severely impaired or no sense of sight of the horror that trucks have recently brought to our highways, the festive season promises to bring a massive bloodbath of magnitudes never seen before.
Truck accidents have become a daily occurrence and given the severity of crashes involving trucks and other vehicles, it’s scary to imagine what the festive season rush would bring. Some single-vehicle accidents that trucks have been involved in have a chance to become collisions as traffic increases during the festive season. When a fatigued truck driver loses control and cuts across other lanes, during the festive season rush, the chances of that truck colliding with another vehicle increase.
Behind the recent spate of truck accidents are various factors which the government needs to attend to before it’s too late.
Without seeing official figures, one can agree with SA Trucker that side-tipper trucks have been the most involved in accidents recently.
Truck drivers’ horrible working conditions
There are many reasons why trucks have, all of a sudden, been involved in so many accidents chief amongst them is the working conditions. Notably, the pay-per-load system which indirectly forces the truck driver to overwork himself to reach company-set or his own targets.
For non-truckers, they will tell you that you should never overwork yourself to impress the company or set targets that would force you to overwork but it’s not that easy. Yes, at the end of the day, the decision to go the extra mile lies upon the truck driver himself but to the companies, it’s not the extra mile, it’s the minimum they expect.
To get the bare minimum wage, truck drivers have to go the extra mile which is unfair to them. It gets worse for side-tipper truck drivers because their loading and offloading points are always open. This forces them to drive at odd hours and in many instances while they are tired. SA Trucker published the heartbreaking detailed experience of side tipper truck drivers before.
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Read here: This is what’s killing side tipper truckers
Truck drivers know their rights, but there is no one to police them, truck drivers complain that the cases they report to the bargaining council are not handled fairly as employers are allowed to frustrate the process causing the drivers to abandon the cases.
Influx of inexperienced truck drivers
South Africans should be given preference over immigrants when it comes to employment in the trucking industry. However, it’s illogical to remove an experienced immigrant driver to employ a citizen who is not experienced. It’s important to note that truck driving is not qualified by citizenship but by training and experience. The consequences of hiring inexperienced truck drivers are fatal and cannot be overemphasized.
Systems should be put in place to ensure that inexperienced truck drivers regardless of their citizenship, are trained before they hit the road.
Unfortunately, as the government has proven to be reactionary, it tends to bow to pressure from the public and turn a blind eye to crucial baby steps needed to equip the drivers before they are employable. Recently, the ATDF in agreement with the government has been forcing employers to remove immigrant drivers and replace them with locals who are sometimes inexperienced.
The government’s reactionary operation was also recently manifested in Pongola when the community unlawfully banned trucks from using the N2 through their town following a horrific truck crash. The government only sat down with the community and the truckers to map a safe way forward for all the parties after the community protested. This is despite complaints raised by the community and N2 road users of the menace side tipper trucks had become for the past months.