BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Monday ordered truck owners to install rear shock absorbers before Sept. 1, to avoid more deaths like that of Zghorta’s mayor last month.
Driving his Audi Q7 along the Karantina highway on the morning of June 19, Toufik Mouawad was surprised by a Sukleen truck parked on the side of the road. His car slammed into the rear of the truck and was caught underneath.
The truck in question was in violation of Lebanon’s new traffic law, passed in November 2012, as it lacked an underride guardrail, a metal barrier attached to the back of a truck to prevent a crashing car from sliding beneath the vehicle.
After increased media and civil society attention to this unimplemented article of the law, the Interior Ministry announced that starting in September, anyone driving a truck without an underride guardrail would be punished.
Saying the absence of the equipment violated Article 85 of the traffic law, the ministry commanded the “monitoring of all trucks’ compliance with the mentioned article... and the busting of any violations.”
The statement also order vehicle inspection centers to rule any truck that does not comply with the standard as “non-roadworthy,” specifying that the underride guard rail must be “low enough [in height] to prevent the vehicles from sliding under the truck in case of collision.”
The absence of the feature has caused over 200 deaths in the last couple of years, according to Joe Daccache, the vice president of YASA International.
Traffic safety organizations had been calling to equip trucks with the rails since 1997, but it was not until 2012 that the standard was included in Lebanon’s traffic law.
When trucks are not equipped with the rail, the driver receives the greatest shock when his vehicle collides with the rear edge of the truck. However, after the rail is installed, the accident’s shock would be dispersed over the whole front of the car, increasing the probability of the driver’s survival.
Road traffic accidents are among the main causes of death in Lebanon.