TAN Sri Lee Lam Thye is urging SPAD and the other law enforcement agencies to take effective action on overloaded commercial vehicles using the highways.
“These authorities concerned have a collective responsibility to ensure road safety along our highways to reduce more fatal accidents and loss of lives,” the chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health said in a statement to Cars Bikes and Trucks.
Lee, also a member of the Road Safety Council, was responding to a comment piece by Cars Bikes Trucks editor Yamin Vong that was sparked by a recent fiery bus crash near Tapah on the PLUS Highway in which eight people were burnt to death.
“I refer to Yamin Vong’s comment that the recent bus crash along the Plus highway near Tapah …. ‘is not an accident but very probably due to criminal overloading by sand trucks’.”
Lee said an inquiry was underway to determine the actual cause of the incident but “it has yet to be established that the “particularly wheel in question” did fall from a trailer.
Yamin had placed the blame squarely on the widespread practice of overloading trucks that was going unpoliced.
“To a large extent I concur with Yamin’s views as undoubtedly overloading by commercial vehicles using the highway poses the biggest threat and danger to road safety,” said Lee who was awarded the Man of the Year award for 2014 at the NST Truck of the Year awards.
“This is particularly so in respect of tipping trailers carrying construction materials such as sand for example.
“It is common to see sand-carrying tipping trailers moving at snail space when climbing hilly stretches of our highways due to sheer overloading.
“I have been reliably told that a sand-carrying tipping trailer allowable (licensed) to carry up to 51 tons will take in 100 tons or more. And this is a common occurrence
“Overloading by commercial vehicles has to be addressed effectively in the interests of road safety. This must be done through effective law enforcement without fear and favour. When enforcing the law it must be done with integrity.”
Lee’s statement comes in the wake of Thursday’s crash, at Km254.8 on the North-South Expressway, in which a 60-tonne trailer carrying steel, apparently rammed into the back of a car, dragging the Honda Civic along the road for a kilometre before both vehicles burst into flames.
The driver was burnt to death while his passenger survived despite suffering servere burns.
“A NST report on Friday, Jan 23, says that prior to the fatal ramming, the truck had rammed into two other vehicles, fortunately without causing injuries” Yamin said.
“It’s paradoxical that overloading by sand transporters is becoming more widespread when SPAD was in fact established to regulate commercial vehicles.
“If SPAD needs more enforcement clout and if it can’t get it, then the government must face up to the fact that road safety is being systematically violated.
“The overloaders will gradually steal away the business from the honest transporters.
“There will be more and more overloading and more road deaths, many of which won’t be ‘accidental’. These road deaths will be caused by a calculated degradation of the Road Transport Act.”