Traffic officers patrolling some of the busiest stretches of road in the country are now well equipped with the technical and legal expertise to detect and fine drivers using unsafe tyres. The South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) has partnered with the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC), offering in-depth training and practical workshops to provide valuable hands-on tyre knowledge for traffic officials and police who work on the N3 route between two busy cities; Johannesburg to Durban.
Caption: Traffic officers inspect wheels during a training workshop provided by South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) on tyre safety and the legal requirements when checking tyres on vehicles.
Nobuzwe Mangcu, managing executive at the SATMC says, “Traffic officers can play an active part in highlighting to motorists that a tyre needs to be replaced. Their attention to detail and ability to notice the tell-tale warning signs of a tyre that could burst or loose traction is vital to our goal to save more lives on our roads.”
To address the need for increased awareness of tyre faults and improved technical knowledge, the SATMC conducted training sessions in partnership with the N3TC for more than 120 municipal and provincial traffic officials, weighbridge inspectors, and police officers at Mooi Plaza, Tugela Plaza, Harrismith and Heidelberg last week.
The SATMC, a representative body of four manufacturing companies in South African, who are Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Sumitomo, is dedicated to the increased tyre safety among South African public law enforcers as well as road users.
“Tyres have to bear the entire weight of the car, the passengers and the cargo in addition to shock absorption, steering and braking.” Mangcu added. “Drivers are well aware of the risks of driving with damaged tyres and that doing so puts the lives of everyone on the road at risk.” “Talking about it is no longer enough, we are going out and empowering traffic officials so they can raise driver awareness about these risks.”
The finer details of the regulations of the National Road Traffic Act were explained to officials who conduct routine vehicle inspection at roadside check-points. Importantly participants were reminded that according to law, no person can drive a vehicle that is equipped with a tyre that is in such a state of disrepair that it can cause damage to the road surface or is likely to be a danger to themselves and other road users. Drivers that disobey this law could be fined up to a maximum of R500, depending on municipal by-laws.
Workshop participants learnt about the tyre manufacturing process, what the product identification markings on a tyre mean and regulations on the use of regrooved tyres. They learnt about how to spot the tell-tale signs of a damaged tyre and how to check the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI). Traffic officials participated in a practical exercise where together with an expert SATMC tyre specialist they inspected and assessed tyre quality and tread on a variety of vehicles including sedans, minibus taxis and trucks.
Officials attending the workshop raised concerns about the poor quality of tyres on many vehicles they inspect. “When I show them that their tyres look bad, the usual response is that they will change them at the end of the month, but then we find that the next time they are stopped, they are still driving with the same old tyres,” said one traffic officer.
The N3TC manage a distance of 423 kilometres between the towns of Heidelberg in Gauteng and Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal. Sam Motshabi, northern section Road Incident Management System (RIMS) manager at N3TC said that the route is one of the busiest in the country. “Minimum average daily traffic volumes on a normal day is 4000 trucks and another 12 000 other vehicles travelling on the N3. That’s just on a normal day.” Over the Easter holidays, Motshabi said that volumes increased to 2000 vehicles per hour.
Broken pieces of retreaded tyres are a nightmare for Motshabi’s team. He says that N3TC Route Services team under TollCare management, picks up about 635 pieces of tyres on the road per month. “Truck tyres should be changed before there is a chance that the tread may break off. The amount of retread we collect shows that there is a problem with the tyre quality of many vehicles and it is a hazard for other motorists,” says Motshabi. Tyre pressure also plays an important role in the life of a tyre and Motshabi added that motorists should have the right pressure before the journey commences.
“Talking directly to drivers is very valuable. We also need to find opportunities to talk directly to fleet owners to ensure that they meet their responsibilities too”.
“Our partnership with N3TC is very valuable, we’re very glad to find ways to improve road safety on this and other major routes. We hope to continue the workshops and extend their reach to important players such as taxi associations, fleet owners, and other organisations.” says Mangcu.
Tyres are made from steel cord, carbon, sulphur, fabric, natural and synthetic rubber.
A small spare wheel, known as a ‘biscuit’ tyre can travel at a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour for a maximum of 80 kilometres.
Tip: Check if your tyre meets the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) by logging on to www.nrcs.org.za. Click on Automotive and then Tyre homologation database.
For more information about the SATMC and the traffic officer training, contact SATMC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
High resolution images available upon request.