Overloading costs everyone simply too much


Jan 1, 2018

At Trucksurance, we are fortunate to have the best clients any insurer can ask for. The fleet owners we insure are meticulous in ensuring their trucks are well maintained and their drivers are properly trained – and that they take the rules of the road seriously. 

This responsible way of doing things is why our company is doing so well in the highly competitive insurance industry. It is also the reason for our low premiums and why so few of our claims are ever rejected. Our excellent client book puts us in the best company out there!

That said, we thought we’d chat a bit about overloading and what it’s costing us as taxpayers and as a country. Overloaded trucks are a well-known phenomenon in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Some examples over the past few years include a truck in Cape Town that was found to be 25 tons over the permissible mass in January 2019, leading to a fine of R42 000. In the six months prior to that incident, 30% of the trucks weighed in the city were found to be overloaded. 



The record, however, was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where in 2015 a truck was overloaded by a whopping 117 tons! Africa, in fact, has become so infamous for the unbelievable sight of trucks crammed with everything under the sun that there are various pins on the image-sharing site Pinterest dedicated to it. It’s not really a laughing matter, though.

Of course, it’s not just trucks that get overloaded – buses, minibus taxis and ordinary passenger vehicles are caught carrying too many people as well. In just one instance in June 2019, a coach that was stopped near Laingsburg in the Western Cape carried 46 passengers more than its seating capacity of 71 persons.  

Despite the dangers involved in overloading vehicles, some risk-takers don’t seem to think of the costs it extracts. First, in terms of medical expenses and lives lost because of accidents. Second, in terms of paying for repairs and damage (and don’t forget the downtime these cause – that costs too). And third, over time, the negative effects on one’s fleet maintenance budget and operating expenses. 


Beyond the obviousI

In the bigger picture, road engineers blame overloaded trucks for accelerating the deterioration of roads and bridges. In South Africa, this is now estimated to be costing the government in the billions of rands each year – and the amount does not include the cost of cleaning up and fixing road infrastructure after truck accidents. And it’s not just our major roads that are being affected. Drivers who take alternative routes to cut corners and avoid weighing stations are causing severe damage to secondary and tertiary roads. This affects every road user in the country as well as its entire economy.

Something that’s seldom given a thought, especially among the public, is how offenders penalise their compliant peers, who must compete against truckers improving their profit margins by overloading their vehicles. These offenders basically gain a competitive advantage through unlawful means, and when law-abiding truckers see them get away with it they are tempted to do the same – and every road user and taxpayer loses more.  

Finally, from an insurance perspective, your cover in case of an accident may be void because an overloaded vehicle is illegal, finish and klaar. As Locke Purdon, our executive director says: “If the cause of an accident can be directly linked to the truck being overloaded, the claim could be rejected.”


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Jan 1, 2018