According to the Automobile Association (AA), there are about 900,000 vehicle collisions in South Africa every year.
As many as 40 people a day are currently losing their lives on our roads. Accidents involving trucks are amongst those that result in the most fatalities and serious injuries, and the greatest damage to property.
In October 2014, a truck caused a 47-car pile-up on the N12 just outside Alberton, resulting in four deaths and multiple serious injuries.
In September of the previous year, South Africans were horrified when a truck in Pinetown ran a red light and ploughed over several cars, causing the deaths of 27 people and injuring at least 80. In yet another accident, a truck collided with a bus on Moloto Road in Pretoria, resulting in 29 deaths and injuring 30 people.
What’s the cause of so many truck accidents in South Africa?
A South African culture that supports reckless driving and a lackadaisical approach to vehicle maintenance, along with a lack of effective traffic policing, contribute to the excessively high number of road accidents in the country.
A few added factors help account for high numbers of truck accidents. According to a survey conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand, as many as half of all long-haul truck drivers in South Africa get less than 5 hours of sleep a day.
The survey also found that many truck drivers work well over the maximum 71 hours per week mandated by the South African Labour Relations Act. In fact, those surveyed worked an average of 93 hours a week.
What to do if you or a family member is in a truck accident
If you’re involved in a truck accident in South Africa, it’s ideal if you can record specific information straight away. This is so that you can provide a full report if required by an insurer or for legal purposes. For example, record:
- information about the accident, including what happened, when and where
- contact details and ID numbers of those involved, of the relevant trucking company and of any witnesses
- details of the truck driver’s or truck company’s insurers
- details of the vehicles involved in the accident, including make, model and registration numbers
- the name, staff number and station of a traffic police officer at the accident scene.
If possible, it’s a good idea to use your mobile phone to take photographs of the accident scene, showing all sides of the vehicles, their relative positions and the extent of any damage which has been caused.
Note that you shouldn’t admit liability or sign any documents you’re handed at the accident scene. You should report the accident to the police as soon as possible and obtain an accident reference number.
Making a personal injury claim
If you or a family member are seriously hurt in a truck accident which was the fault of the truck driver or the trucking company, you may have a valid legal claim. This could mean you’ll be compensated for medical expenses, as well as income lost due to time off work and the trauma associated with the accident.
Many truck accidents in South Africa result in serious injuries which require long-term treatment and rehabilitation; some of these – like paraplegia and quadriplegia – leave the victims permanently disabled. Medical costs for significant injuries can run into the hundreds of thousands or even more, adding financial stresses to the physical and mental trauma already present in the circumstances.
How DSC Attorneys can help
If you think you may have a personal injury case as a result of a truck accident, the first step is to contact experienced personal injury lawyers. Call us at DSC Attorneys for the best possible advice – we offer a free first consultation and work on a “no win no pay” basis.