Heavy lorries ruining roads

By CARSIFU | 23 October 2012
PETALING JAYA: Overloaded lorries are quickening the wear on roads in the country, causing damage costing millions of ringgit to repair every year.

The Works Ministry says that roads meant to last up to a decade before they were mended now needed major repairs within the first three years because of the overloaded vehicles.

Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor said: “The lifespan of these roads are reduced due to the overload.”


He had earlier been reported as saying that RM747mil was spent on the maintenance of federal roads throughout the country between January and October last year.

Sabah Public Works Department director Datuk John Anthony said overloaded vehicles were very common in the state, especially lorries carrying oil palm fruits.

“They illegally modify their vehicles to be able to load more, with some carrying three times the permitted amount,” he said.

“It (the overloading) is so rampant that the roads get damaged faster than we can repair them,” he added.

Anthony said the cost of repairing a damaged road was between RM1mil and RM2mil a kilometre.

Constructing a new road costs between RM3mil and RM4mil a kilometre, depending on the terrain.

The Universiti Malaya Centre for Transportation Research, meanwhile, said that even the slightest overload could cause great damage as “the relation between the vehicle axle load and road damage is to the power of four”.

“For example, if a lorry is overloaded by a mere 1%, the damage done to a road will be fourfold,” centre director Prof Dr Rehan Karim said.

“Malaysian taxpayers are paying for the damage caused by these overloaded vehicles,” he added in an interview.

Damaging Impact

Dr Rehan and his team developed the automated “Weigh In Motion” system, which when placed on a road can identify overloaded trucks and gauge the extent of overloading.

The team studied the extent of overloading by types of trucks and the degrees of overloading.

“We found that about half the number of trucks comprising various categories were overloading and carrying almost twice the weight limit,” he said.

On the safety aspect, Dr Rehan said the additional load affected the dynamics of the vehicles.

“Overloading can cause mechanical failures, affecting the driver’s ability to control the vehicle,” he added.

He noted that data from the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research showed that 25% of fatal accidents involved heavy vehicles.

“This is a huge number, considering that Malaysia has an average of 6,800 road fatalities each year,” said Dr Rehan, who is also Transportation Science Society of Malaysia president.

In 2008, he said, about 27% or 270,000 of the one million registered commercial vehicles in the country were found to have overloaded.

Dr Rehan said overloading was widespread because “more trips to deliver goods would mean higher operating cost”.

He said that another reason was limitations in enforcement capability such as visual inspections and static weigh scales.

Meanwhile, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) have penalised lorries overloaded by up to 138% since early this year.

Statistics provided by the authorities also showed that about 70% of these lorries carried more than half above the permitted load.

“Overloading has become a common practice among lorry operators.

“If we do not act against them, everyone will overload just to compete with one another,” said SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal.

SPAD took over from the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board in 2010.

The highest fine imposed on a lorry operator to date, he said, was RM15,000 for overloading by 98%.

A total of 161 lorry operators have been prosecuted by SPAD to date for overloading.