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HomeFeaturesThe solution to South Africa’s high rate of deadly car crashes – and it’s not Aarto

The solution to South Africa’s high rate of deadly car crashes – and it’s not Aarto

Testing vehicles older than 10 years for roadworthiness on a regular basis will go a long way in reducing the unacceptably-high level of accidents on South African roads, states the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

Checking that these vehicles comply with the rules and regulations of the road traffic act at set intervals will lower the chances of technical issues that cause crashes, as well as reduce the pressures of car accidents on the country’s already overstretched emergency services.

9 years and no answers

Jakkie Olivier, Chief Executive Officer of the RMI, said an amendment to Regulation 138 to implement more regular testing was published in 2014 in the 22nd amendment of the National Road Traffic Act, declaring that vehicles older than 10 years should be subjected to a roadworthiness test every two years, at a date to be determined by the Minister.

Almost nine years later, however, the minister has yet to provide a date.

“One of our main concerns is the absence of a regular regime of testing for 80% of the vehicle population,” said Olivier.

“Private vehicles in South Africa are only tested for roadworthiness upon change of ownership. Vehicles used for reward are tested more regularly, i.e taxis and trucks annually and buses, every 6 months.”

The consequence of this is that, of the current vehicle population of approximately 13 million, the biggest category – private motor cars and station wagons – does not have to undergo any regular roadworthiness testing.

“This means that only approximately 20% of the total current vehicle population is required to be tested,” said Olivier.

Road safety in South Africa a national pandemic

The high number of accidents and deaths on South Africa’s roads has been likened to a national pandemic, with a recent study finding that local drivers are the most dangerous in the world, regardless of their gender.

Big contributors to these fatalities are the average age and condition of vehicles in the country, as many older cars are no longer in a roadworthy state.

Charl de Villiers, chairman of the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA), said the association has seen many instances where unroadworthy tyres with 1mm of remaining tread depth were used to ferry passengers on a daily basis, putting their lives in serious risk.

“We have seen the impact of unsafe vehicles on our roads, particularly when safety critical components like brakes, tyres and lighting are not maintained,” said Vishal Premlall, national director of the Tyres, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA).

“Not only can technical issues cause accidents and endanger drivers and passengers, but road accidents also place strain on our already overstretched emergency services.”

There are many examples around the globe where the implementation of vehicle inspection controls has not only made a positive impact on road safety and reduced fatalities, but also “positively changed the culture of road safety by impacting driver consciousness and contentiousness,” said Olivier.

“While the RMI is aware of and welcomes the currently planned initiatives for the enhancement of road safety from the Department of Transport, we firmly believe that the best way to achieve optimal road safety and decrease road fatalities would be to also focus on vehicle safety and reopen discussions around vehicle testing.”

A renewed call from the industry, backed by the RMI, TIASA, TEPA, and the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), has therefore been sent to the new minister of transport, Lydia Chikunga, requesting talks to resume around the implementation of such testing.

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