More drivers caught overloading lorries with workers

KEEPING TO THE LIMIT: While most lorry loads keep within the designated passenger loads, an increasing number are violating the maximum limit.  GOING DOWN: Unsafe practices, such as these workers sitting atop a pile of cargo on a lorry (left) in 2009
KEEPING TO THE LIMIT: While most lorry loads keep within the designated passenger loads, an increasing number are violating the maximum limit. GOING DOWN: Unsafe practices, such as these workers sitting atop a pile of cargo on a lorry (left) in 2009, have dipped since new laws were passed.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG ST FILE PHOTO
KEEPING TO THE LIMIT: While most lorry loads keep within the designated passenger loads, an increasing number are violating the maximum limit. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
KEEPING TO THE LIMIT: While most lorry loads keep within the designated passenger loads, an increasing number are violating the maximum limit. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Number of notices issued on the rise, but other violations have fallen: LTA

The number of lorry drivers caught carrying too many workers on their vehicles is on the rise, going by latest figures provided by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

There were 559 notices issued to drivers for carrying too many passengers on lorry load decks for the first eight months of this year alone, surpassing the number of notices issued for the whole of last year.

There were 429 notices issued last year, a jump of more than eight times from the 51 in 2011.

Since September last year, every worker has been required to have at least 8 sq ft of deck space to himself, up from 4 sq ft previously. Another rule was introduced to reduce the number of workers that may be carried, if goods or equipment are also transported, according to the remaining available floor space.

Business owners from construction and landscaping sectors who require the ferrying of workers said that drivers sometimes "try their luck".

They do so when they have one or two workers who cannot get onto a lorry due to its maximum capacity.

Companies may also try to save cost by putting off investing in more vehicles, and also time, by discouraging double trips.

The vehicles are usually used to transport goods as well, so double trips are seen as a waste of time, they said.

Mr Patrick Tan, 51, who has run a landscaping firm for 20 years, said he gets workers who cannot fit onto the vehicles to take public transport and compensates them for their fares.

"Sometimes it's because companies are naive about this. Drivers are sometimes from countries like China, India and Bangladesh and they may not know the rules well," he said.

The first offence of overloading workers on lorries carries a $500 fine and six demerit points. A repeat offence warrants court action.

While overloading workers on lorries is a concern, rules introduced since 2009 to improve the safety of workers being transported in lorries appear to have worked. These include stiffer penalties and a requirement for lorries to have higher side railings. The number of notices issued to drivers for failing to ensure seated passengers do not exceed 1.1m in height from the carriage deck, fell from 142 last year to 48 in the first eight months of this year.

Failing to provide adequate shelter to those seated on the floor of the vehicle and failing to fit higher protective side railings on goods vehicles used to carry workers also registered drops.

However, 187 passengers were injured or killed while travelling in the rear of open lorries and in cargo decks last year, up by 45 per cent from 129 in 2011.

"To educate employers and foreign workers on the safety regulations, stickers and fliers are distributed to lorry owners and posters distributed to the foreign worker dormitories," an LTA spokesman said.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg