‘Most accidents due to tyre burst, leading to driver losing control of vehicle, caused by overloading’
The stand-off between tipper lorry operators and Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) personnel has shed light on the manifold safety issues posed by overloaded goods carriers. The stalemate intensified following a recent social media campaign against the department and an official who imposed a hefty fine on a tipper lorry in Pathanapuram in Kollam district for overloading.
Additional Transport Commissioner Pramoj Shankar said there would be no let-up in the drive against overloaded tipper lorries and other goods carriers, considering the grave safety hazards and damage to roads, when the gross vehicle weight (GVW) exceeded the safe axle weight prescribed for each vehicle. “Often, lorry operators add leaf springs to the suspension to carry a few tonnes more than the permissible load. This is a violation of body-code norms and motor vehicle rules,” he said.
Such illegal and unsafe alterations also substantially affect the service life of vehicles and of roads which may not be designed to bear such weight. Many lorry operators do not seem to be aware of this, he added.
On how overloading considerably affected braking and the vehicle’s dynamics, especially so since most tipper lorries are driven in a rash manner, a senior official of the MVD’s enforcement wing said, “They [vehicles] end up in major accidents. We get to see innumerable instances of axles of such vehicles breaking on undulated roads, at curves or when climbing an incline / overbridge. Their suspension also suffers damage.”
Almost all accidents caused by tyre burst, leading to driver losing control of the vehicle, too have been attributed to overload. Two-wheeler riders and pedestrians passing by are especially at risk in such situations. Few lorry operators give thought to how a single lorry carrying load that ought to be carried in two lorries, affects the livelihood and income of other operators and drivers, he added.
The added emphasis on public safety and allied aspects found resonance in the revised penalty that the motor vehicle rules prescribe for overloading. An excess of one tonne load attracts a fine of ₹10,000, while ₹1,500 is imposed for every additional tonnage beyond that.
Tipper Lorry and Earth Moving Equipment Owners Association secretary N.R. Shaji said the association had exhorted operators and drivers not to load beyond the ‘body level’, following awareness classes organised by MVD personnel. There could be stray exceptions in some districts where there is a tendency to violate the condition, he said.
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