Flying-tyre shocker a wake-up call for authorities

Image: supplied

A Nelson Mandela Bay businessman is counting his blessings after nearly meeting his maker last week when a truck tyre slammed into his car while he was driving to Middelburg to visit his girlfriend.

The tyre smashed into the front of his car as the manganese truck passed him. 

“It used to be that motorists had to watch out for kudus in the Karoo — now it’s flying tyres,” a shell-shocked Luan Schutte said shortly afterwards.

Schutte said that as the truck passed him on a downhill on Thursday, one of its nearside tyres had flown off and hit his car, cutting into the radiator.

“If it had been half a metre higher, I would have been dead,” he said.

“It happened so fast I had no time to dodge it.”

A man who had been driving behind the truck raced after it and managed to get the driver to pull over and supply his contact details.

According to this man, the owner of a truck company himself, big truck and trailer rigs have sensor systems linked to their tyres, so the driver should have known when he lost the tyre or even earlier when he lost pressure.

The terrifying incident will have sent shivers down the spines of motorists who regularly travel on the N10.

It has brought into sharp focus the traffic dangers on the N10, which has become increasingly congested with manganese ore trucks.

“It seems these manganese haulers also often use ‘recap’ tyres, like retreads, which is ... why the roadside all the way along the N10 is littered with tyres that have blown out,” Schutte said.

“The road has become really dangerous.”

Bay manganese industry watchdog Emile Hallaby said several of the accidents involving these trucks had been linked to poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving.

Bay manganese ore handler Kalahari Autoforce co-owner Johan Kruger also blamed lack of maintenance for many of the truck accidents, but linked these to unbranded haulers seeking to cut costs. 

Schutte’s unnerving experience should serve as a serious wake-up call for the authorities, who must act quickly to police this road and make it safer for regular motorists.

There should be regular roadblocks to check the roadworthiness of trucks, with tough consequences for those who fail the checks, and a concerted effort to clamp down on reckless driving.

Schutte is lucky to be alive — a few centimetres higher and it would have been a different story.

The next motorist might not be so lucky.



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