We have seen an increase in the incidence of large-scale truck and bus accidents over the last few years and this is due mainly to 2 reasons. Firstly, there are more vehicles on the road and secondly, the number of truck and bus operators without valid licenses is growing rapidly. This means greater risk for both logistics and transport companies and for organisations that make regular use of logistics or transport companies.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation recently released a report stating that there are close to half a million heavy-duty bus and truck drivers without valid driving permits. Along with poor vehicle maintenance the conditions are ideal for multi-vehicular accidents. An example of the consequences of poor maintenance coupled with driver negligence could be seen in the recent frightening crash on Johannesburg’s Queen Elizabeth Bridge in March this year, as well as a fatal crash last year in Alberton, in which more than 50 cars were involved due to a truck collision. It is believed that the truck was un-roadworthy and the primary reason for the accident.
The issue is that these accidents pose a major threat not only to individuals but to businesses alike. Every year, South African businesses lose millions of Rand due to property damage, legal proceedings and rejected insurance claims to these types of accidents. The Road Safety Act states that it is the responsibility of the fleet operators and vehicle owners to ensure that their employee’s professional driver permits (PDP) are renewed according to regulation, and that drivers meet the required standards. The employment screening process must also include a medical fitness certificate.
From an insurance perspective, claims may well be rejected if the following criteria are found to play a role in the contribution to the accident:
Reckless or dangerous driving
Driving under the influence
Unlicensed vehicle or driver
Driving for periods over the legal 12-hour limit.
If you use a logistics or transportation company to handle your goods, we recommend thoroughly researching the company’s reputation and track record. Always check if they have their own cover, over and above the cover you stipulate, in place in case of an accident and insist on seeing a valid operating license. Visit the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport of South Africa for more information.