Johannesburg - This may seem strange to anybody who's not in the trucking business, but very often the 'trailer' section of the eighteen-wheelers you see rumbling along our highways doesn't belong to the same owner as the 'truck' section.
Most independent truckers - and quite a few of the big hauliers - operate only the truck; they will pick up loaded trailer at one end of the country and drop it off at the other, relying on brokers or 'head office' to find them another load going the other way.
Some of the trailers are owned by the manufacturers or distributors whose loads they carry, others by container companies. But as far as repairs and maintenance are concerned, far too many live in the twilight zone somewhere between a wheelbarrow and a diesel bakkie.
Whatever maintenance they do get is likely to be done grudgingly, with as little expenditure as possible. International research has shown that inadequate maintenance is one of the top three causes of truck crashes worldwide, often due to brake failure, worn tyres or poor-quality replacement parts.
Which is why proper maintenance, and its role in road safety, is the theme of this year's annual Safety and Trailer Wellness Indaba, to be held in Johannesburg on 26 November.
Some of the most experienced names in the industry will be contributing to the discussion at the Indaba, bringing a wealth of knowledge and insight from their respective roles in the industry to the conversation.
‘Big wake-up call’
"We normally display samples of actual failed parts from across the industry," said promoter Omar Essop of TSE Big Max. "Most often these are safety-critical parts, imported at significantly cheaper prices than local parts.
"But they're also significantly sub-standard in quality; it's a big wake-up call for people to see the results for themselves."
Essop also pointed out that ongoing maintenance can even save the operator money, by replacing parts as necessary rather than waiting until the trailer has to be pulled off the road for a major overhaul - and it will also reduce the chances of having to absorb the cost of a crash.
‘Recipe for disaster’
Masterdrive MD Eugene Herbert agreed, saying: "Many of the most serious truck accidents over the past few years can be traced back to poor maintenance.
"Drivers have enough to contend with on the roads including other reckless drivers, poor road conditions and demanding schedules. When you add a badly maintained vehicle to the mix, it's a recipe for disaster."
For more information on the Safety and Trailer Wellness Indaba, call 010 231 2900 or email [email protected]