May 012011

Dear IFRTT Forum subscriber,

Training, education, capacity building, expertise etc. are generally lacking in various sectors in most Developing Countries, and South Africa is no exception.  In addition, a large proportion of heavy vehicles in such countries operate at unacceptable levels of fitness.  I recently attended my third “Brake & Tyre Watch” in Bloemfontein, a private initiative by a local trucking magazine, Fleetwatch, in an attempt to address the above two problems in the road freight industry. The first day consisted of lectures by industry experts, particularly with regards brakes and tyres, to approximately 60 traffic police officers.  The second day consisted of on-the-job training at a vehicle testing centre, where heavy vehicles were thoroughly checked by experts together with groups of officers.  Of the 26 trucks checked, 22 were served with discontinuation notices and a further three charged for brake- or tyre-related offences and subsequently released.  To date, over 600 traffic police officers have attended such events and of the 325 vehicles inspected, 204 (63%) have been served with discontinuation notices.  Thus, while the ongoing development of truck components and systems to improve truck safety performance is essential, lack of vehicle maintenance, together with inadequate enforcement, remains a major contributing factor to the poor road safety statistics in many Developing Countries.

One of the alternative approaches that is being pursued in South Africa in order to address this unacceptable situation, is self-regulation through the voluntary implementation of management system standards by transport operators, consignors and consignees.  Up to now, progress has been relatively slow (there are approximately 30 certified organisations), but there have been some encouraging results within individual organisations as well as industry sectors that have or are in the process of implementing these standards.

At the same time, ISO/PC 241 is well on its way to finalising a new standard, ISO 39001 – Road Traffic Safety Management Systems.  The committee will be having its 6th meeting in Adelaide, Australia, from 9 to 13 May, after which is it likely that a Draft International Standard (DIS) will be released for comment.  The IFRTT was accepted as a Liaison Organisation of ISO/PC 241 earlier this year, so please feel free to contact me if you would like further information or would like to submit comments on the DIS through the IFRTT.  Once released, I will forward the DIS to all IFRTT Board members.  I believe that this new ISO standard has a significant potential of saving lives on the road through its implementation in Developing Countries.

Last week, Anders Lundström, a member of the HVTT12 Organising Committee, met with seven European IFRTT Board Members at Schipol Airport to discuss various issues regarding the planning of the next Heavy Vehicle Transport Technology conference in September 2012 in Stockholm.  From what I can gather (the bulk of the notes of the meeting are in Swedish), the meeting was very worthwhile.  We are grateful for the efforts of Anders and the other Organising Committee members in the planning of the conference.  Please look out for the call for abstracts towards the end of this year.

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons in Pretoria.  We have just had our first taste of winter and there is a noticeable nip in the air in the early mornings (by SA standards).  We had our first frost in various parts of the country within the past week.  Admittedly, maximum daytime temperatures are still reaching the low 20’s and in some areas 30°C.

Best regards and drive safely

Paul Nordengen

IFRTT President

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