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Placing an emphasis on inspection

GAVIN MYERS sat down with Garth Johnson, CEO of Dekra Automotive South Africa, to find out how commercial vehicle and fleet operators can better manage the condition of their vehicles

What is the general state of commercial vehicles in South Africa?

Dekra is very fortunate that 80 percent of the commercial customers to whom we render our services maintain their vehicles and keep them in a roadworthy condition. However, there are large numbers of vehicles on our roads that are not in a roadworthy condition.

What are some of the most common failures seen on commercial vehicles?

These are certainly brakes and tyres. Air supply is another common issue.

Why do you think these are so common?

It all comes down to driver abuse and poor maintenance.

How often should commercial vehicles be tested for roadworthiness?

Commercial vehicles with a mass greater than 3 500 kg must be tested every 12 months for roadworthiness, and buses every six months.

What should vehicle operators do when preparing their vehicles for a roadworthy inspection?

Operators or owners should service their vehicles at a reputable service centre before they present the vehicle for roadworthy inspection. Some fleet operators have their own workshops that are operated by qualified mechanics, who maintain their vehicles and prepare them for roadworthy tests.

How can operators ensure their vehicles remain in a roadworthy state between inspections?

They should develop a safety checklist and teach their drivers to inspect the vehicle accordingly every time they embark on a delivery, and report any defect to the fleet manager or workshop. The vehicle must be serviced on a regular basis. In other words, they should follow some sort of maintenance plan or schedule.

Dekra offers numerous corporate and fleet solutions. Please can you briefly detail these and tell us how they benefit commercial vehicle operators?

We offer a commercial vehicle inspection that highlights any defects on the vehicle. This can be undertaken annually and will give the owner a comprehensive
list of anything that is wrong with the vehicle. We can develop inspection criteria according to customers specifics.

We do a number of inspections in the different transport industries and inspections can be tailor-made for any transport operator.

Dekra Automotive as a company wants to ensure that safe vehicles are placed on our roads and thus reduce the fatalities that occur every year as a result of vehicles not being in an acceptable condition.

My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise, spank it at the track or go bundu-bashing (the mud-and-rocks-side-of-a-mountain type, not the exploring-Joburg’s-pavements type). Otherwise, chances are you’ll find me lying underneath one of my beloved toys or with my head buried in its engine bay, tinkering away.

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