Road transport has long since replaced rail carriage as the dominant form of long-distance freight transport in South Africa. On long hauls, road freight carriers are able to transport certain primary products of an organic nature, such as timber, fish and agricultural products (for example, livestock, fresh and frozen meats, fruit, vegetables and dairy products), some semi-finished goods and most finished goods.
Road freight transport is more flexible and versatile than other modes of transport, because of the vast networks of roads. It can, therefore, offer point-to-point service to almost any destination. It is this flexibility and versatility that has enabled road freight transport to become dominant in most countries.
Road freight carriage offers clients reliable service with little damage or loss in transit. It generally provides much faster service than rail transport and compares favourably with air carriers on short hauls. Many road freight carriers, particularly those involved in “just-in-time” services, operate according to a scheduled timetable. This results in reliable transit times. Road freight carriers are, therefore, able to compete with air transport for small shipments, i.e. partial loads or less-than-truckload (LTL) consignments – and with rail transport for larger shipments.
Typical strengths of road transport:
- Door-to-door service: Road transport is not limited to a fixed route or to fixed terminals. Consignments can be conveyed directly from a shipper to a receiver without the need for specially-built terminals.
- Accessibility: Road carriers can deliver in every country or economically-active region in the world. Deliveries are, therefore, usually prompt.
- Freight protection: As a result of the ability to supply a door-to-door service, little handling and few transhipments take place between destinations. Separate feeding/collection and line-hauling are often not necessary, and neither are delivery or distribution activities.
- Speed: This mode of transport maintains short door-to-door transit times, especially over short distances. When delays occur as a result of traffic congestion or other incidents, it is often possible to follow alternative routes.
- Capacity: The vehicle’s carrying capacity, although relatively small compared with other modes of transport, is adaptable and can be readily increased.
- High frequency: A high service frequency can be maintained as a result of the small carrying capacity and high speed of road vehicles.
Typical limitations of road transport:
- Limited carrying capacity: The dimensions and gross mass of road vehicles are limited through legislation.
- High environmental impact: Road vehicles create noise and air pollution.
- Vulnerability to external factors: Inclement weather conditions and traffic congestion can impact on the reliability and punctuality of road transport operations – especially in countries with severe climatic conditions, such as heavy fog and snowfalls.
- High energy consumption: To convey one unit of freight, road vehicles consume more energy/fuel than other forms of surface transport.
- Shared right of way: On public roads, the right of way is shared with other traffic, which increases safety and security risks and the occurrence of unexpected delays.
For example: An accident involving a truck with hazardous goods on board may result in a road closure lasting several hours. In addition to high accident risk, road vehicles are vulnerable to theft and hijacking.
Here at FDK Transport, we will continue to bring out the strengths of road transport and diminish the limitations, so that our clients can experience the best in road transport.