The objectives of this study are:

a. Overview the statistics of container trucks accidents

b. To scrutinize the possible causes of causing some of the container trucks accidents happened in the past and identify areas for improvement.

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c. Overview the current government legislation and enforcement on container trucks and container drivers.

Scope and Background of Research

Importance of Container trucks

Container trucks deliver goods from place to place, safely and quickly. In 2001, the movement of cargo by road is 20,853,000 tons for discharged and 17,030,000tons for loaded. Container trucks divers are really playing an important role in speeding up the growth of logistics in Hong Kong.

The Downside ( Fishbone Diagram of the reasons of container accidents is shown in appendix A)

The downside, not counting for the damage done to the environment or vehicle pollution related cases of sickness, is that this creates an all too common lethal combination of vehicle and driver which sees about 1217 traffic accidents involving container trucks in 2000 and about 1185 in 2001. That means there were 25 container trucks traffic accidents took place per every 1000 licensed vehicles. (See appendix)

This situation is not only worth the concern of container trucks drivers but also exposes a risky environment to other road users. The vast majority of passengers and non-passengers suffering injury or death may be considered as wholly innocent regarding any causal effects of the accident. It should also be noted that for every person injured or killed in a road accident many others suffer, such as the family members and friends of the victims. (See appendix)

According to information released by Road Safety & Standards Division, Transport Department Hong Kong Police Force, the main reasons causing container trucks crashes are road design, human error, driving behavior, mechanical problem and government inspection and enforcement.

In this report, we are going to give you an understanding on each possible cause. We will show you the relevant case and discuss each of them. Also, the fact that the cost of human life is substantial and it is essential to find out methods to prevent of road traffic accident through a systematic research in Hong Kong.

Road Design

Truck drivers spend a lot of time on roads everyday. A good road design is vitally important to them for having a safe working environment.

Lung Fu Road (formerly called Foothills Bypass), opened on 8thMarch 2002. It is one of the major road for heavy vehicles coming to and from Tuen Mun Area 38 (Siu Lang Shui (West)) and the River Trade Terminal. Lung Fu Road is a 2.6km long, dual 2-lane carriageway. Two-thirds of the carriageway is supported on a 20m high earth embankment and the remaining 0.9km is an elevated structure spanning over Lung Mun Road and the Light Rail Transit. Although this newly- built road relieved traffic along Lung Mun Road, there maybe some problems with its design which had already caused 4 people dead within 3 weeks. Some truck divers who frequently use this road also commended unsatisfactory with the road design.

The planning, design, construction and maintenance of Hong Kong’s roads, highways and bridges are done by The Highways Department. The department is also responsible for planning and facilitating the implementation of the railway networks. There are rules and regulations applying on each road such as load, structure design, specification for materials, pavement, length and width, etc. All these standards are set for road safety and protecting drivers and road users as well. To add, the safety of a road design is the work of The Transport Department. She carries out traffic researches and then evaluates the data obtained to decide whether specific section of a road is traffic black point or not. After that, she will pass any improvement works to The Highways Department.

Some of the drivers thought that the concrete wall at the roundabout was too low and there was a sharp bend which cause drivers danger. The road was designated restricted zone 24 hours daily and subject to a speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour. However, there was a traffic sign stating that the section of Lung Fu Road from a point about 100 metres west of Lung Fu Road roundabout was subject to a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour. The main problem is most of the drivers move at a very high speed since there is a long straight highway before this section. So, they are not quick enough to respond to a sudden change of speed within such short distance which leads to accidents happen.

Improvements

1. After several serious accidents happened, The Transport Department had painteddouble yellow lines in order to remind drivers to decelerate.

2. To improve the situation, she also posted a notice stating that the existing speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour on the”Lung Fu Road as gazetted in G.N. 1430″dated 8 March 2002 will be rescinded. Instead, she changed it to a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour between a point about 140 metres west of Lung Fu Road roundabout and a point about 120 metres east of the same roundabout.

3. Besides, appropriate traffic signs will be erected on site to guide motorists.

Other improvements about road design for heavy vehicle safety:

Thrie-beam Safety Barrier Fence

In order to provide better protection to heavy vehicles, Highways Department has installed a Thrie-beam safety barrier fence at Long Tin Road as a trial. The condition of the barrier fence is being monitored for evaluation of its effectiveness.

Truck Mounted Attenuators

Highways Department has commenced the trial use of truck mounted attenuators to reduce the severity of accidents for work zones on high speed roads.

Human Error

Many accidents related to cargo are caused by human error; for instance, drivers failure to see or hear a warning, failure to respond correctly to a signal or hazard or failure to handle the controls correctly, overdrive, overloading and so on.

An accident was happened on 09 November2002 related to overdrive and overloading. (See appendix)

The reason why truck drivers overdrive and overload with cargo is very simple because drivers want to use the shortest time to carry the maximum cargo so that they earn more money. As a result, many truck traffic accidents are caused by overdrive and overload cargo, which led many people dead and injured in the accident.

Largely as a consequence of differential mass, the occupants of large trucks compose only 14 percent of the fatalities resulting from fatal truck crashes; 86 percent of the fatalities occur outside the truck, to pedestrians, cyclists, and primarily the occupants of passenger of vehicles. Therefore, a truck crash will cause many injuries in an accident. (Sources from: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety, Anthony Schafer, Cotr)

Overloading is very danger because the stability of the engine will be affected. Also, the force act on the tyre will be increased. As a result, it is danger of the truck overloading cargo on a road. So, drivers should refer to the registered ‘Gross Vehicle Weight’ to carry cargo.

Improvement

There are two improvements and two recommendation should be implemented in order to reduce the accident happened and remind truck drivers that overdrive and overloading can cause very serious accidents.

1. More inspection on the truck travel speed

Use LIDAR (Laser Infrared Detection And Ranging) GUN to detect the travel speed. And, increase the inspection frequency and place.

2. Increase penalty in terms of Money

The penalty of overloading offence and the fixed penalty of speeding offence for more than 45 km/h is increased from $450 to $1,000 that is effective from 1 April 1994 and 1 January 2001 respectively. (See appendix)

Recommendation

1. Implement new device to check the truck cargo weight

Mobile Weighting Devices should be implemented to weight the cargo. Set up additional Weight Station to inspection the truck and step up enforcement action and enhance enforcement action against repeated offenders.

2. Increase penalty in terms of Driving-offence Points System

Nowadays, causing death by reckless driving or causing death by dangerous driving and reckless driving or dangerous driving incurred 10 points. And careless driving incurred 5 points. If the driver drives in excess of speed limit, then about 3-10 point will be incurred, which depends on how much speed exceed and where break in law. And, the point should be incurred more in order to threaten driver.

For the overloading, the Demerit Points System should be implemented and deducted more points because it may seriously affect the livelihood of drivers. So, driver will drive car carefully. Also, the number of the fixed penalty warrant will be decreased from 30 to 20. So, it can threaten the driver do not overload with cargo.

Driving Behavior

Driving behavior also is a factor which cause container traffic. The main cause of container traffic due to the driver fall a sleep while they were driving. On 29th January 2003, there was a serious traffic accident in Sheung Shui Shan Tin Road. The container driver, Mr. Tam want to made use of the time to finish his work before the Lunar New Year, he transported the goods overnight, and so he didn’t have enough sleeping time. It was the main cause of this traffic accident. (See appendix B)

According to the survey which done by Hong Kong Transport Alliance Club, 310 container truck driver is interviewed and there are 53.4% (Refer to fig.1) of them who work more than twelve hours everyday. It shows that the problem of the container truck drivers always fall a sleep while they were driving is very serious. There are few reasons lead to the container truck driver need to work for long hours.

First, unemployment problem becomes serious in the transport industry. In recent years, there is an economic recession in Hong Kong and the unemployment rate attain to 7.7%. In this situation, the container truck drivers need to work hard in their job.

Then, it may due to the payment of their salary. Currently, commission-based and piece-rates payment system is very common. Commission-based remuneration is calculated as a percentage of the retail value of goods transported. For the piece-rates, drivers are paid according to the number of container boxes transported during each journey. Therefore, if the container truck driver wants to earn more salary by shuttle back and forth between Hong Kong and the Mainland China to transport the goods.

Furthermore, transport goods between Hong Kong and the Mainland China need much time. Usually, it spends half of a day or a whole day to transport one container box of good. Sometimes, the container truck drivers may sleep on their truck and cannot have dinner with their family. Also, from Kwai Chung Container Terminal to the cross border, Lok Ma Chau, there are several highways need to pass through, such as Tuen Mun or Fanling Highway, therefore, accidents will be occurred easily.

Related Regulation

According to the International Labor Affairs No.153 which was established in 1979, it regulates the following legislation, several countries which are nearby Hong Kong also have legislation to regulate the working period.( Refer to fig.2).

1. Drivers should take a rest after four hours continues driving.

2. Driving period should not more than nine hours everyday.

3. Driving period should not more than four-eight hours per week.

4. Drivers must have at least eight hours for taking a rest.

Recommendation

In this situation, for the safety of the container truck driver, the government should make some regulation to protect them. Salary protection and restriction policy of the working period should be formulated. Therefore, it enhances the employment opportunity. Also, Labour Department should strengthen the supervise the employer; prosecute those employers who violate the labour legislation. Furthermore, legislation should be set up to restrict the working period. The team negotiate power should be restored to get a reasonable salary. Finally, salary price floor should be formulated to protect the salary level.

Mechanical Problem

Mechanical problem is a very common reason causing truck accidents. The following is an advice to truck drivers posted on the web page of Hong Kong Police on 30 October of 2002. (The related news is enclosed in the appendix B)

Causes and recommendations:

Any defect that occurs to any part often vehicle including the engine, brakes, lyres, locking devices, should immediately be made good. It is relevant See appendix A, that any ancillary equipment fitted to the vehicle should be regularly inspected and tested. Of particular concern in respect of this ancillary equipment is the It Fling apparatus, frequently found attached to- goods vehicles for the loading and unloading of goods.

Among the mechanical problems, brake failure is the most common error, the following factors may cause brake failure resulting in traffic accidents.

1. Excessive wearing of brake pads and shoes. Also, the wear on the master cylinder’s moving parts may allow brake fluid to leak, causing unreliable stopping or possible system failure.

2. The wheel cylinder is a critical element in the drum brake assembly. If brake fluid leaks from the wheel cylinder, the vehicle could experience unreliable stopping, damage to new brake shoes, or partial brake system failure. A sticking wheel cylinder may cause brake drag, excessive pedal effort, and reduced braking efficiency.

3. Faulty disc brakes can cause excessive pedal travel, pumping or fighting pedal, vibration during braking action, and brake failure.

So, all restraint system should be regularly inspected for wear or damage and if any defects are found, the system should be immediately replaced. Particular attention should be given lo any webbing and ropes to ensure there is no visible deteriorations Wire ropes should be free from rust and not have any broken wires, or strands.

On the matter of maintenance, two- items, both illustrated in appendix A, are particularly relevant and although not entirely related to the loading of goods of vehicles, do have an effect on the efficient movement of such goods. The first of these items concerns oil spillage and the detrimental effect this has on bituminous road surfaces. Whilst much of the problem is caused, by engine oil which better maintenance would avoid or caused by fuel spillage.

Related regulations

Vehicle Examination

It is essential that all vehicles must be constructed and maintained properly to be roadworthy for safe use on the road. The responsibility is undertaken by the Vehicle

Examination Division of the Transport Department.

Vehicle Type Approval

For most of the vehicles, before their registration, the first model would undergo a type approval application and examination to ensure that vehicle complied with the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations. All commercial vehicles would undergo annual roadworthiness examination.

Pre-licensing Inspection Requirement

Presently all taxis, public light buses, franchised and nonfranchised buses, private light buses, goods vehicles, special purpose vehicles, trailers and private cars (over 6 years old) must be inspected and issued with a Certificate of Roadworthiness as a prerequisite for license renewal.

Government Inspection and Enforcement

There is a Code of Practice for Loading of Vehicles, issued by Transport Department, offered to the container truck drivers. All the drivers are expected to know the regulations well to achieve road safety.

Weight of loading

According to the Code of Practice, goods must not be loaded:

a. the weight of the vehicle transmitted to the road surface exceeds: 4.5 tones for a single wheel, 9 tones for an axle having 2 single-tyred wheels, 10 tones for an axle having 2 double-tyred wheels, 11 tones for an axle having more than 2 wheels. (C;M 14)

b. the permissible gross vehicle weight of the vehicle is exceeded or the permitted axle weight is exceeded, or in the case of an articulated vehicle, the maximum gross combined weight is exceeded. (C;M 7)

Transport Department emphases that the vehicle must not be overloaded. An overloaded vehicle is a source of danger both to its occupants and to other road users. Overloading has a detrimental effect on the brakes, suspension and steering, making the vehicle difficult to control. The vehicle’s behavior is particularly affected in emergency situations, where its slow and irregular response to the driver’s controlling actions, are real source of potential accidents. (See Appendix 1)

Loads Distribution

Before a vehicle is loaded, it should be inspected by the driver to ensure that the load platform, bodywork, anchorage points, twist locks, and other relevant parts are in a satisfactory condition.

Badly distributed loads, such as heavy loads placed at the rear or at the front of the vehicle platform can easily cause the permitted axle weight plated on the side of the vehicle to be exceeded. The result of any axle failure can be extremely dangerous for the occupants of the vehicle and for other road users if the failure occurs whilst the vehicle is moving.

Consideration must be given when loading the vehicle that the load is not so arranged that the removal of any part of it during the journey would adversely affect any axle weight, or the stability of the vehicle. In this respect it is essential to know the weight of the load and the weight of the individual items so that it can be readily ascertained whether or not this problem is likely to occur.

Any roof racks or similar construction must be firmly fixed to the body of the vehicle so that they cannot become detached when the vehicle is in motion, and this should be regularly checked, particularly if they are of the type that can be removed when required. It must also be ascertained that the roof rack or similar construction is capable of carrying the load, as most of the type that are used on goods vehicles in the Territory are generally only suitable for carrying lightweight equipment, such as canvas sheeting or spare lashings.

Any load must be arranged so that it does not obstruct the driver’s field of vision including the view to the rear. (See appendix 2)

i) The load should be spread so that an even weight distribution over the floor area is obtained.

ii) Loads inclined and supported only at the front and rear of the loading platform should be avoided.

iii) Stacked loads should be arranged so the heavier items placed at the bottom.

iv) Heavier items should be placed nearer to the longitudinal centerline of the vehicle and lighter ones to the sides.

Containers Standard

Containers used in the Territory are constructed to international (ISO 1496) standards, having a height ranging from 2.6m (8′-6″) to 2.9m (9′-6″).

Containers Carriage

It is strongly recommended that containers are only transported on vehicles equipped with twist locks or similar devices. If however a container has to be transported on another type of vehicle then a retention system will be necessary to adequately secure the container to that vehicle. Similarly if any of the twist locks are not functioning properly then additional restraint will be necessary. (See appendix 3)

The carriage of single ‘twenty feet’ containers on ‘forty feet’ trailers, (See appendix 4) results in an uneven distribution of the load and is extremely dangerous. This practice should be discontinued.

Although the relevant legislation does allow a container to extend beyond the rear of a vehicle it is strongly recommended that containers should not be allowed to project beyond the sides or the rear of the vehicle loading platform (See appendix 5)

Conclusion

In this project, it showed that container truck were involved in accidents leading to fatalities or injuries. And the five main causes and the method of prevention are discussed in this project. The following table summarized the content of this project.

Cause

Examples

Improvement

Road design

1) Lung Fu Road and Wong Chu Road’s concrete wall at the roundabout was too low and there was a sharp bend which cause drivers danger

2) Speed limit on the road is inappropriate for the drivers

1) Painted double yellow line to remind drivers to decelerate

2) Posted a notice to state the limited speed

3) Erected an appropriate traffic sign

4) Installed a Thrie-beam safety barrier fence at Long Tin Road as a trial

5) Used truck mounted attenuators to reduce the severity of accidents for work zones on high speed roads

Human error

1) Overdrive on a road

2) Overload with cargo

1) Use LIDAR Gun detect the travel speed

2) Use Mobile Weighting Device to weight the load drivers are carrying

3) Increase penalty in term of money

4) Increase penalty in term of Driving-offence Point System

Driving behavior

1) Fatigue in driving

1) Salary protection and restriction policy of working period

2) Set up legislation to restrict the working period

3) Formulate the salary price floor

Mechanical problem

1) An accident took place in which a container fell from the trailer if a truck, leaving a lamppost and a traffic sign damaged.

1) Drivers should ensure the current state of their trucks and the containers carried on the trailers are in safety conditions.

2) They should make particular concern in respect of ancillary equipment for the loading and unloading of goods

Finally, government has set some regulations for the container trucks’ drivers to ensure the road safety. Those regulations retrain the

i) Weight and length of loading

ii) Load distribution

iii) Containers standard

iv) Containers carrier

The professional drivers are under the restriction of these regulations.

If the above causes can be solved, then less accident will be happened. So, drivers should follow the regulations.

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