The focus on environmental awareness in the road transport industry is in danger of becoming equated with carbon emission reduction targets in most business people’s minds. It is well known that South Africa’s road transport system is heavily overloaded, and carries too much traffic that cannot be accommodated by rail freight. This leads to overuse of the road infrastructure and damage to roads, as well as the dangers of too much heavy freight traffic on our roads, such as accidents, overloading, and others. All of these factors need to be addressed, in addition to carbon emissions, if the industry is to continue to be sustainable. The key point about ‘greening’ a road transport fleet is not only to reduce emissions, but to make the fleet safer, more efficient and less costly – all factors which make the business more sustainable as well as more environmentally friendly.
The ongoing efforts to change the freight mix in South Africa away from road transport to other modes will take a long time to become effective. In the meantime, efforts to make the road transport industry more sustainable continue. Despite concerted and ongoing efforts for an effective law enforcement strategy by the road and traffic authorities, the sharp increase in heavy vehicle traffic and the effects of overloading continue to be a major problem on South African roads. Overloading causes premature road deterioration and, together with inadequate vehicle maintenance, high levels of driver fatigue and poor driver health care programs, contributes significantly to South Africa’s poor road safety record.
In response to these dangers, the industry has devised and implemented the Road Transport Management System (RTMS). This is a self regulation initiative that has already shown outstanding results since its implementation and supports the Department of Transport’s National Overload Control Strategy (NOCS).
RTMS is an industry–led, government-supported, voluntary, self-regulation scheme that encourages consignees, consignors and road transport operators to implement a management system (a set of standards) that demonstrates compliance with the Road Traffic Regulations and contributes to preserving road infrastructure, improving road safety and increasing productivity. RTMS therefore is a system that voluntarily regulates the heavy vehicle industry and has achieved significant results in Reduction and minimisation of overloading (by up to 25% over the past two years)
· Preventing road damage and preserving our infrastructure
· Enhancing the safety of heavy vehicles on our national roads (the number of fatalities, for example, has reduced from almost 50 per month two years ago to less than 5 per month now)
· Taking care of truck drivers’ health (Driver Wellness Initiatives)
· Reduction of traffic violations (e.g. reducing speeding incidents)
· Improving efficiency in various industry supply chains
· Actively promoting skills development within the transport sector
· Companies measuring their performance and taking responsibility for the impact of their activities
Aspects of the operations of truck fleets which RTMS monitors and benchmarks include many, such as fuel consumption, load efficiency, route planning, and others, which contribute strongly to more efficient and therefore more carbon-efficient trucks. The RTMS demonstrates that sustainable business is also greener business when it comes to truck fleets.
Contributed by: Adrian van Tonder, Senior Technical Manager, Barloworld Logistics