More than half of lorries inspected in Dubai during six-month period had faults

The Road Transport Authority inspected about 26,000 heavy vehicles in the first six months of 2016.

DUBAI // More than half of the lorries inspected in Dubai in the first six months of this year were found to have had faults, according to the Road Transport Authority.

About 13,000 of the more than 22,000 heavy vehicles checked by the authority in the first half of 2016 failed to pass inspection.

As a result, the authority impounded 301 lorries for posing “a threat to traffic and road users”, and found what it described as major faults in nearly 10,000. The results were not surprising, one road safety expert said.

George Zakhem, a programme manager for Transport Research Laboratory, a UK-based transport consultancy, said typical faults included worn-out tyres, overloading and improperly secured cargo that fell on to the roads.

“Finding faults with lorries on the road is not new, and anyone can notice them,” Mr Zakhem said. “The first problem you see is the tyres, and the hub to which the tire is fixed, or problems with the body of the vehicle, which affects the safety of loads.”

Other major breaches included faulty lights and signals and overloading. “To avoid having to take more trips, and because drivers sometimes work overtime without taking proper rest, they overload their vehicles,” he said.

Overloading stressed tyres, brakes and engines, he said.

“This is very dangerous and a major violation. It could lead to a lorry leaving the road and crashing.”

Another common fault was failure to secure a load, in contravention of the law, Mr Zakhem said. “Sometimes the cover [tarpaulin] is not fixed properly or has holes in it, or not made from the proper material that protects the transported component.”

Mohammed Nabhan, director of monitoring and enforcement at the RTA’s licensing agency, said 5,031 offences were a result of poor headlights and insufficient lighting, 3,146 for unclear number plates, 1,301 for defective tyres, and 1,286 offences related to road unworthiness.

He said the lax attitude towards roadworthiness was a serious safety hazard.

“The monitoring and enforcement department is always paying close attention to the state of lorries because they have an important role in turning the wheels of the economy, on internal and external routes,” he said.

Companies needed to monitor and maintain their vehicles properly, Mr Zakhem said.

“They are not as heavily monitored as taxis. Most companies temporarily fix the issues ahead of official check-ups,” he said.

Heavy use plus wear-and-tear meant the condition of vehicles deteriorated quickly, well ahead of their next inspection.

Mr Zakhem said safety standards also had to be applied to the drivers, who should take 20-minute breaks every two to three hours.

“Driver fatigue leads to as many risks as unsafe vehicles.”

In July last year, a tired lorry driver was taken to hospital after his vehicle hit a house in Ras Al Khaimah.

Police said the lorry driver had lost control “due to malaise, lack of sleep and exhaustion”.