How weighbridges work and why they’re the motorist’s best friend
Have you ever wondered what happens at weighbridges when trucks are pulled over? Most people breathe a sigh of relief when the police officer standing on an off-ramp signals at the truck behind them to pull over. But do they consider what happens next? What are the police looking for? What takes place at the weighing stations?
Overloaded trucks are destroying our country’s roads. That’s what many South Africans believe. This is, however, far from reality because trucks on all major routes are subjected to close scrutiny, as the CEO of a leading privatelyowned logistics company reveals.
According to Ryan Gaines, CEO of City Logistics, overloaded trucks do more than damage the roads.
“They’re dangerous too,” he contends.
“Overloaded trucks require more time and space to brake, they can be difficult to steer, the overloads cause stress on the mechanical components of the vehicle and there’s more wear and tear on the tyres, which could result in a blowout.”
Having said this, Gaines believes trucks are sometimes unfairly subjected to bad press.
“Some road users believe overloading is common, and that this will only be exacerbated in the lead-up to Christmas as there is a heightened demand for deliveries. But this isn’t true. Reputable companies, such as ours, ensure we don’t overload. Companies that do not stick to the rules of the road are bound to be apprehended and fined at one of the many weighbridges on our national roads.”
What happens at weighbridges?
In a nutshell, they’re there to check trucks and their loads don’t weigh more than 56 tons (that’s the legal limit in South Africa).
How do weighbridges work?
Each weighbridge is manned by a team of people, and there’s often a “spotter” located a few kilometres before the weighbridge who analyses the type of truck and speed at which it is travelling. This serves as an indicator of the type and weight of load the truck may be carrying. Trucks moving especially slowly are likely to be flagged by the spotter and pulled over. The truck will be driven onto a scale to assess and measure the weight of the truck and its contents.
While traffic officers are looking for overloaded vehicles, they should also assess the condition of the vehicle.
“They should check the vehicle is roadworthy (that its tyres have sufficient tread, for instance). They should also check the driver has the correct and valid licence,” said Gaines.
Trucks that are overloaded can face fines of up to R240,000. Even the most unscrupulous transport operators will think twice before overloading a truck, which is good news for the roads and road safety in general.
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