One-person cars the problem
Fleet operators say too many cars carrying too few people cause congestion, not slow trucks
BANNING trucks on roads during peak hours will not improve road safety or lessen congestion — quite the contrary.
Banning big trucks will simply see more, smaller trucks deployed to get loads delivered, which will lead to more congestion, more crashes and higher costs to the consumer.
This was the reaction of a panel of speakers during the TruckX conference held in Sandton last Thursday of proposed legislation to remove trucks over eight tons from public roads during morning and afternoon peak hours.
Speaking to Wheels after the conference, Ricardo Coetzee, managing executive: Automotive, Innovation Group, said the government is on the right track to start making roads safer by attempting to lessen congestion, but the focus should be on reducing the number of cars with just person in it.
He admitted that it is a complex process that needs a holistic approach, but pointed out that other congested cities in the world have shown how it can be done, with solutions ranging from public transport that is faster and easier than a car in traffic, to opening bus lanes to cars with four people, and changing the times people go to work and school.
MD of the Unitrans Customer Solution Development Division, Ray Singh, said as it stands, the proposed legislation would put a huge strain on existing infrastructure, as there is already no space to park trucks on most routes.
Singh said the proposed banning of trucks during peak hours would raise costs by 12,5% to 25%.
“This financial impact through the value chain was not thought through at all,” said Singh.
Head of Vehicle and Asset Finance Business at Standard Bank, Toni Fritz, said parking big trucks during peak hours will require more depots, more staff and more diesel or electricity to run refrigerator units.
MD of Ctrack’s Fleet Management Division Hein Jordt, said the number of truck hijackings has increased exponentially in the past few months, and adding more trucks to the roads will increase this crime statistic.
Otto Swanepoel, a truck operator who delivers abnormal loads, said his business is already not permitted to operate on weekends, public holidays or at night, and he will have to close if he has to stop during peak hours as well.
Swanepoel took issue with the industry’s blank acceptance that trucks are responsible for crashes.
“Trucks are not the guilty party causing accidents in South Africa, it is the taxi drivers, the pedestrians and car drivers. We see it daily between Alberton and Pretoria,” said Swanepoel.
He invited Carte Blanche to send a camera crew with his trucks to record just how badly car drivers behave during peak-hour traffic, an invitation the producers accepted gladly.
Samuel Makhathini, a former fuel truck driver said trucks do not congest the roads, as the smooth flow on South Africa’s busiest highway, the N3, shows.
“For 22 hours a day, there are more trucks on the N3 than cars and on average they maintain a slow but constant flow. Too often it is when a too-fast car collides with a truck that the road gets blocked.
“Private drivers need to leave their rage at home if we are to bring down our death toll on the roads,” said Makhathini.
former fuel truck driver ‘Private drivers need to leave their rage at home if we are to bring down our death toll on the roads.’