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No limit to ignoring mass limits

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No limit to ignoring mass limitsTruck and bus drivers ignoring National Road Traffic Mass Limit signs do so at their peril and endanger the lives of the general public.

Having recently witnessed a few serious truck accidents on the steep hill in Doreen Road, Roodepoort, Gauteng, I have been prompted to write this article in the hope that truck and bus drivers will adhere to the National Road Traffic regulations pertaining to mass limit signs.

Due to the steepness of Doreen Road, authorities have imposed a mass limit of five tonnes for any vehicle.

Well-displayed mass limit signs have been erected at the top and bottom of the road and can be clearly seen by drivers long before they ascend or descend the hill. Yet many truck and bus drivers ignore the mass restriction and use the road at their peril.

To establish how many trucks and buses that exceed the maximum tonnage allowance are using the road, I conducted my own traffic survey and found that approximately 16 vehicles an hour (in both directions) exceed the gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of five tonnes and are illegally using the road.

The National Road Traffic Regulations sign number R202 clearly spells out the meaning of the sign as follows: Mass Limit Sign indicates to the driver of a vehicle with a GVM or gross combination mass (GCM) in excess of the mass indicated in tonnes, by means of the number on the sign, that he or she shall not proceed beyond that sign.

In my opinion, the possible causes for heavy vehicles with a GVM exceeding five tonnes using the road, are that drivers do not know and understand the meaning of the mass limit sign; they deliberately choose to ignore the sign; or that they do not know the GVM of the vehicle that they are driving.

To minimise the risk of drivers exceeding the mass limit, I would recommend that commercial vehicle operators refresh their drivers’ understanding of the GVM and GCM ratings of the vehicles that they drive.

• GVM: The total weight of the vehicle and load – including the weight of the fuel, driver and passenger being carried.

• GCM: The combined weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer (or trailers) that it is pulling.

GVM and GCM ratings can be found on the vehicle data plate that is normally fixed to the left-hand cab door. The fixture of a metal data plate on commercial vehicles exceeding
3 500 kg GVM is a legal requirement.

The dangers involved in ignoring mass limit signs should be explained, as well as the risk of brake failure down long and steep gradients – resulting in a runaway vehicle.

Hopefully this article will prompt vehicle operators and traffic control authorities
to take some action to minimise the carnage we witness daily on our roads; caused by drivers ignoring mass limit signs.


One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.


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