All South African road-freight logistics companies have a responsibility of ensuring the Road Worthy South Africa of their commercial vehicle fleet.
This includes constantly monitoring the quality of their tyres to avoid dangerous accidents such as the one that was recently caused by a truck in Modimolle, Limpopo, on the N1 highway that claimed the lives of more than 20 people.
The general road worthiness of the truck, including the age of its tyres, is alleged to have played a part, together with a number of other factors, in the devastating accident.
This pile-up is said to have been the worst in the region’s history, with only four people surviving the carnage.
Bridge Tyres’ managing director, Quinton de Villiers, says, worryingly, worn tyres remain one of the biggest causes of accidents on South Africa’s roads.
“Unfortunately, there are still many operators that choose to skimp on maintenance to save on operating costs. This is especially true of those smaller operators who supply their services at unsustainable rates. Conversely, responsible transporters are well aware of the dangers associated with poor maintenance, including failure to replace worn tyres, and have, therefore, made contingency for this in the costing of their service,” De Villiers says.
Bridge Tyres is a subsidiary of Bridgewater Logistics, one of the country’s foremost road-freight transporters, specialising in both short and long-haul operations.
The company’s state-of-the-art tyre fitment and alignment centre is located at Bridgewater Logistics’ facility in Pomona, Gauteng, and operates on a round-the-clock basis to service the demands of South Africa’s many road hauliers.
De Villiers says that worn tyres pose a major risk by no longer efficiently displacing water and debris, while shallow treads do not provide the traction that is required to control a heavy vehicle.
In extenuating circumstances, excessive wear can even lead to a tyre explosion in which drivers can lose control of their vehicle and cause a fatal accident, such as the one in Limpopo.
The driver is alleged to have lost control of the truck when the front tyre burst.
It veered into the lane of oncoming traffic and a 22-seater Mercedes Benz and Nissan NP200 caught fire on impact.
Earlier this year, a truck also lost control and collided with a vehicle when its tyre burst tyre in an incident that claimed the lives of four people on the outskirts of Kimberley.
Burst tyre debris, often seen on South Africa’s busy road corridors, could even fly into other cars in the vicinity, creating a further potential hazard.
There are a host of reasons for such a tyre failure and many of them could have otherwise been avoided through proper driver training.
For example, a well-trained driver knows to inspect for poor condition, which can comprise the structural integrity of the tyre, resulting in potential dangerous changes in pressure or cracks in the body.
The deteriorating and increasingly congested South African road infrastructure places even more onus on drivers to monitor their tyres, which are increasingly being damaged by potholes, debris and uneven surfaces.
“Bridgewater Logistics takes pride in its ongoing focus on safety. In addition to being a moral responsibility, safety awareness makes sound business sense in that it leads to fewer accidents and less delays – both important for enhancing relationships with clients,” De Villiers concludes.