Risk assessment on trucks is not a luxury.
For the average reader, the article in The Star on Monday 30 November (Frightening truth about SA
trucks) came as a shock. Up to seven out of 10 trucks on our roads are deemed unroadworthy. Being
involved in assessing heavy duty vehicles, we know very well that these statistics could actually be
The article made use of statistics pulled from tests conducted by specialist trucking magazine
Fleetwatch. The magazine has been staging hands-on heavy-vehicle testing multiple times a year
since 2006. During this so-called Brake & Tyre Watch, provincial authorities nationwide randomly
pull-off heavy-duty trucks off the roads. Each truck is inspected on the condition of the brakes, tires
and lights. The officials also inspect the trucks for general maintenance of safety, critical
components, as well as possible overloading.
While attending one of these tests, the writers noticed that 11 out of 15 trucks inspected were
Items like brakes and tires wear and tear quickly on our roads and it doesn't take too much to get a
light damaged either. The condition of these parts is, however, critical. Failure to meet basic quality
levels deems the vehicle as being unroadworthy. With the pressure on to deliver, many owners of
trucks fail to make time to inspect the condition of their vehicle regularly, and sufficiently. What
they usually forget is that, once a vehicle is determined to be not-roadworthy, insurance companies
can revoke a payment for a claim regardless of whether the (lack of) roadworthiness contributed or
attributed to the accident.
The South African Occupational Health and Safety Act clearly states that employers have the legal
obligation to provide a healthy and safe workplace. This includes all corporate vehicles; such as
trucks, delivery vans, as well as vehicles used by reps or to transport employees to and from work.
A proper and regular risk assessment is the easiest way to establish and maintain the safety
condition of these vehicles and to achieve compliance. Such risk assessment will consider the basics like the quality of the
brakes and tires. It will also assess the gearbox, steering components, seat belts, exhaust system and
many more aspects of the vehicle.
Risk assessments of corporate vehicles should be conducted by specialists who have the technical
knowledge as well as aware Health and Safety aspects of the vehicle.
Apart from considering the condition of the vehicle, a risk assessment should also include an
assessment of the condition of the driver. With temperatures going up and fatigue catching up,
exhausted or tired drivers can easily cause or contribute to an accident or incident.
MAKROSAFE' Health and Safety specialists determine the road worthiness of vehicles every day. They
provide risk assessment services and other related services, to help in the assessment of vehicles
and drivers and to ensure that they play their part in ensuring road safety in South Africa.
In the said article, one metro cop was overheard saying that 'most truck drivers know that metro
cops aren't all that clued up on trucking, and use it to their advantage.' Many planners and truck
owners advise drivers never to take shortcuts or take routes which are not considered for their
destination. It is feared the truck might become prey to criminals or will have to be taken over roads
with unsuitable road conditions. If shortcuts are not permitted by drivers, truck owners should
certainly not put the lives of the drivers and motorists at stake by ignoring the need for assessing the
risks of corporate vehicles.