Goods transport: Stationary trucks leave a trail of deaths on roads

Friday, August 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
Trucks parked by the road. Vehicles carrying any inflammable substance, explosives or ammunition should not be parked for more than 15 minutes within a trading centre unless it is off-loading or parked in a designated area. Photo/PD/FILE

More trucks on the roads imply more goods transported from manufacturers to retailers and indicate the economy is performing well.

On the flip side, the trucks pose danger to other vehicles when they stall, are improperly parked beside roads or do not have reflectors. 

Kikuyu benga star John DeMathew becomes the latest victim of freak accidents in which vehicles ram into trucks on the road.

In the last two years, more than 100 deaths have been attributed to accidents in which smaller vehicles ram into trucks that are either not parked properly or are on the road at night without reflectors. 

One of the worst accidents reported this year was on March 27, where 15 people were killed when the bus they were travelling in rammed into a stationary lorry at Matuu town along the Garissa-Thika road. 

The lorry, registration number ZF 7443, was parked on the left side of the highway. Police said the deceased were travelling to Nairobi from Mwingi.

Escape unscathed

Barely a week before the Matuu accident, 11 other passengers died in Kikopey, Nakuru, after a truck rammed into the matatu they were travelling in.

The same week six passengers died along Nairobi-Mombasa highway at Masimba when a truck collided with the matatu they were commuting in.

There are cases where drivers of such trucks have been found to be negligent, with most having the false belief that the design, size, length, and weight of the trucks would minimise chances of them getting damaged or the occupants being injured.

“The negligence can partly be attributed to the fact that most truck drivers usually escape unscathed, with more damage to the other cars due to size differences,” said a senior officer from the Traffic Police Headquarters, who asked not to be named.

The law requires that no vehicle should be on the road unless the vehicle and all parts including the lights, and tyres are in good order, so as not to endanger other road users.

Blind spots

“In cases where vehicles have stalled, they should be properly indicated and illuminated especially at night to ensure the vehicle is visible,” said the officer, adding that this would help the motorist behind the vehicle to judge the distance and decide how to overtake.

However, that is not always the case in Kenya. On the night of April 22, two people died in a freak accident after the Toyota Hiace they were travelling in burst into flames on hitting a trailer near Juja City Mall on the Thika Superhighway. 

The occupants, a male driver and a female passenger, were burnt beyond recognition, according to Juja Police Commander Dorothy Migarusha.

Many accidents are caused by obstruction, where vehicles are not moved as close to the side of the road as possible.

“In case of a break down, the vehicle should be removed from the road as soon as possible. While still on the road, clear and visible warning signs must be placed on the road,” said our source.

According to the Traffic headquarters, accidents caused by such trucks are prevalent along highways or in the rural areas where they are parked on or beside the road.

Reports indicate most trucks usually stall in areas such as Salama, Maungu, Timboroa, Burnt Forest, Rironi and the stretch between Webuye and Malaba.

The law stipulates the duration that vehicles should be left parked near a road but this is never adhered to by drivers. 

Vehicles carrying any inflammable substance, explosives, ammunition or petroleum, for example, should not be parked for more than 15 minutes within a trading centre unless it is offloading or parked in a designated area.

Poor Judgement

Bigger trucks pose greater threats due to their length, speed, and blind spots. They have a slew of blind spots on all sides that prevent their drivers from seeing other vehicles around them on the road. 

The trucks also require slightly longer distance and time to either accelerate or come to a complete stop

Police advise motorists not to drive directly alongside such trucks.

 “If you cannot see the driver of the truck in the side view mirror, the driver cannot see you,” they say.

“Motorists should try to change lanes and avoid being directly in front of a truck when in stop-and-go traffic,”  police add.

Fatigue has also contributed to truck accidents. Some drivers ride for more than 12 hours without taking breaks either due to shortage of staff or to make more money. Thus they are less alert and have poor judgement resulting in accidents.

Broken or poorly maintained vehicles also pose danger to other motorists. 

According to the Traffic headquarters, some trucks are not in good working condition and operate with faulty brakes, tyres, lights, and reflectors. 

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