Road freight sector must rise to road safety challenges

Road freight sector must rise to road safety challenges

Road freight plays a pivotal role in South African freight movement. With ongoing challenges in freight rail, volumes will likely continue to increase, and with more trucks on the road comes additional safety risk exposure.

South Africa’s roads are an increasingly high-risk environment, with road freight operators facing the highest risk exposure of any road users. It is imperative to acknowledge that relying solely on law enforcement to address these issues is not a sustainable solution. Moreover, there is a growing culture of non-compliance among light motor vehicle users, further complicating the road safety landscape.

Trucks often find themselves in the crosshairs of blame when accidents occur, even when they are not the root cause, so how can a fleet effectively manage the risks inherent in this environment to operate safely, compliantly, and efficiently?

For operators to mitigate increasing risk and road safety challenges, important safety management systems must be integrated into business strategy. Key mitigating measures include:

  • Establishing a clear and comprehensive safety policy outlining the company’s commitment to safety and setting expectations for all employees. The policy should address key areas like driver behaviour, vehicle maintenance, load securing, and safety regulation compliance.
  • Performing regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards and evaluate risk associated with various aspects of the company’s operations. This includes analysing routes, loading and unloading procedures, driver fatigue management, and other factors impacting safety.
  • Implementing a rigorous driver selection process that includes thorough background checks, driver’s licence verification, and driving record assessments. Operators should provide comprehensive training programmes on defensive driving techniques, emergency response procedures, and safety regulation adherence.
  • Installing driver monitoring systems to track key driving behaviours like speed, acceleration, braking, and adherence to traffic rules. This enables proactive identification of risky driving patterns and timely interventions via coaching or additional training.
  • Establishing a robust vehicle maintenance programme, including regular inspections, servicing, and repairs. Pre-trip and post-trip vehicle checks can identify mechanical issues that may compromise safety.
  • Fostering a safety-conscious company culture by promoting open communication, encouraging reporting of safety concerns, and rewarding safe behaviour. Empower employees to actively participate in safety initiatives through regular safety committees, meetings, and suggestion programmes.
  • Implementing a system for reporting and investigating safety incidents, near misses, and accidents. Encourage employees to report incidents promptly without fear of reprisal and investigate incidents thoroughly to identify root causes.
  • Regularly reviewing and analysing safety performance data to identify trends, areas for improvement, and emerging risks. Use this information to develop targeted safety initiatives, adjust training programmes, and implement corrective actions.

By putting these steps in place, road freight companies can significantly improve safety performance, mitigate risks, and ensure the well-being of employees and the public.

The Road Transport Management System (RTMS), a South African National Standard, is an excellent tool enabling transport operators to implement these measures aimed at promoting transport safety and business sustainability.

JC Auditors has conducted more than 10,000 RTMS audits over the last 15 years. Senior auditor Chris Walden reports that many of these RTMS-certified transporters have presented case studies showing exceptional safety improvements, including overload reduction; improved vehicle utilisation, preventive maintenance, and driving behaviour; and, most crucially, a significant reduction in accidents.

Published by

Oliver Naidoo

Oliver Naidoo is the managing director of JC Auditors (JCA), providing accredited ISO international certification solutions in the Southern Africa region. JCA has conducted more than 10,000 audits over the last 15 years, having pioneered the RTMS certification framework in South Africa.
Prev Is 2024 the end of air freight’s rollercoaster ride?
Next Bearing the load: safety for goods vehicles

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.