Overloaded vehicles are dangerous
Overloaded vehicles pose serious dangers to their drivers and other road users – the goods they carry may topple over and be lost on the road and drivers may lose control of their vehicles –leading to accidents. Overloaded vehicles also cause massive damage to South Africa’s road infrastructure each year: in 2007, it was estimated that overloaded trucks cost the economy up to R800-million a year.
Because an earlier TRAC survey indicated that more than 32% of vehicles on the N4 was overloaded, it agreed with the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to limit the loss of infrastructure, at the very least, by introducing nineteen weigh bridges along the route. Of these, seventeen are in South Africa and two in Mozambique. Although the government provided the money to construct these weighing stations, or load control centresare part of TRAC’s management responsibility. Together with provincial and local governments, including more than 120 full-time traffic officers in Gauteng and Mpumalanga who are dedicated to monitoring this critical element, TRAC has made significant inroads in reducing the number of overloaded trucks on the road. Fines of more than R100-million have been issuedand of the 9% of overloaded vehicles on the N4, less than 3% is illegally overloaded.
- Overloaded vehicles cause damage to the road surface by a factor that grows exponentially as the load increases on a national road
- Damage to roads because of overloading leads to higher maintenance and repair costs;
- Shortens the life of a road, which in turn places an additional burden on the state as well as law abiding road users, who ultimately carry the costs
- Overloaded vehicles are dangerous because they require longer distances to brake before coming to a stop
- They generate high centrifugal forces in corners and shifting loads or loss of tyre grip becomes an instant safety risk
- They have a reduced tyre life, which increases the risk of blow-outs and reduces the driver’s control over the vehicle, escalating the chances for an accident