The following submission was made to the Department of Transport by JPSA on Wednesday 10 June 2015 and is published here for public consumption and in the interests of transparency:
Magagane and John Motsatsing
Department of Transport
Private Bag X193
EMAIL TO: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Ref: PUBLICATION OF
THE NATIONAL ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATIONS FOR COMMENTS
Our Ref: GG 38772 Comments
Wednesday, 10 June
OF THE NATIONAL ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATIONS FOR COMMENTS
1. We refer to the proposed amendments to
the National Road Traffic Regulations tabled in Notice No. 411 of 2015 in
Government Gazette No. 38772 of Monday 11 May, 2015.
1.1. Justice Project South Africa hereby
submits the following comments and inputs on the proposed amendments contained
in the aforementioned notice for your consideration.
2. At the outset, we wish to place on
record that we acknowledge and accept responsibility for the fact that many of
the proposed amendments contained in this notice have apparently stemmed from
the adoption of some of the resolutions which were proposed by the writer, on
behalf of Justice Project South Africa at the National Road Safety Summit held
in Boksburg in October 2013.
2.1. Never in our wildest dreams would we
have imagined that our proposals would have been so thoroughly misunderstood
and/or bastardised by persons at the Department of Transport who have now
clearly demonstrated that they do not have any idea whatsoever of what the real
problems are, let alone how to start addressing them.
2.2. At the very least, we would have
expected some form of engagement from the Department of Transport so that it
may have gained a workable knowledge of the problems at hand and how to address
them. Instead, we note that JPSA has been all but completely shunned and/or
ignored by the department and its cronies.
3. Now that we have dealt with the
preamble to this submission, let us move onto the “nuts and bolts” hereof.
of regulation 107D in the Regulations
4.1. The draft insertion reads as follows:
Manner and contents on which an applicant for the renewal of a driving licence
card is to be evaluated.
(1) An applicant for the renewal of a driving licence card shall before
obtaining a new driving licence card be evaluated by an examiner for driving
(2) The examiner for driving licences shall by observation, inquiry and practical
test, satisfy himself or herself that the applicant-
(a) holds a driving licence which authorises him or her to drive the class of
motor vehicle to which his or her application relates;
(b) knows and understands the road traffic signs;
(c) has a sound knowledge of the rules of the road and the different signals
which a driver of a motor vehicle is required to give when driving on a public
(d) is not subject to any disqualification referred to in section 15 of the Act
or regulation 102; and
(3) For the purposes of subregulation (2) an applicant shall not be required to
undergo a written test.”
4.2. It may be argued that retesting
currently licensed drivers is the only practical way to detect driving licenses
which may have been irregularly
issued as a result of corrupt activities practiced in Driving Licence Testing
Centres (DLTCs) for decades now.
4.2.1. One needs look no further than the
most recent hike in the Road Accident Fund levy increase of 50c per litre of
fuel sold to find evidence of the fact that South Africa is losing the battle
against road fatalities and injuries and it follows that if many driving
licence holders on our roads are quite simply unqualified to hold them, that
this can be identified as one of the root causes of the carnage on our roads.
4.2.2. The evidence of the irregular issue of driving licenses under
circumstances involving corrupt activities is far from anecdotal. The 2003
report of the SIU regarding this very topic revealed that at least half (50%)
of the driving licenses issued since 1998 where invalid in one way or another. It's probably not a coincidence that
road death rates doubled from 1998 to 2006 and it’s probably not a coincidence
that since then, South Africa has consistently maintained a significantly high
road carnage record, leading it to be the second worst in Africa and amongst
the worst in the world when it comes to road safety.
4.2.3. Since then, the Department of
Transport has done little or nothing to rectify that identified problem, let
alone actively combat and eradicate corruption in driving licence testing
centres throughout the country. Twelve years later, we sit in a situation where
it is a well-known fact that driving licence examiners are actively involved in
soliciting and/or accepting bribes in order to pass prospective driving licence
holders and/or to stop continually failing them until they do resort to paying
a bribe. Intriguingly, the Department of Transport has repeatedly laid the
blame for this phenomenon at the feet of driving schools, despite the fact that
it is not currently a legislative requirement that any learner undergoes any
form of even minimum formal training.
4.2.4. As recently as earlier this year, 8
traffic officers who were also driving licence examiners and 10 driving
instructors in KwaZulu-Natal were convicted of corruption for “selling” driving
licenses wherein examiners would overlook “mistakes” in the practical test for
the sum of R5,000 and not subject people to any practical test at all in return
for R6,000. This conviction in the Eshowe Magistrates Court is encouraging on
one level, because it shows that at least some people are being convicted,
however just as “one swallow does not a summer make”, a few convictions from ONE of the numerous DLTCs in South
Africa does not constitute a system-wide flushing out of corrupt officials.
4.2.5. On the face of things, the argument of
retesting current driving licence holders not only has some merit, but clearly
presents the only logical and practical way to detect and filter out irregular/invalid driving licenses which
have indeed been issued to unqualified drivers by corrupt officials.
4.2.6. It however presupposes that the
persons conducting these retests will be materially different persons to their
corrupt counterparts who issue irregular
driving licenses in the first place and this view is, at its very best, naïve.
4.2.7. In practical implementation however,
the self-same corrupt driving licence examiners currently in the system will be
the identical people who currently issue irregular/invalid
driving licenses. Even if the staff capacity of driving licence examiners is
increased dramatically, it won’t be long before newly hired driving licence
examiners cotton onto the fact that they too can augment their incomes by huge amounts by simply engaging in similar
or the identical corrupt activities practiced by their existing counterparts.
4.3. We regret to inform you therefore that
not only is this proposed regulation thoroughly impractical, but is devoid of
any merit whatsoever whilst the current situation of rife corruption and gross
inefficiencies in Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) countrywide prevails.
We further clarify our standpoint in the following paragraphs:
4.4. Practical issues
4.4.1. It is estimated that South Africa
currently has some 11 million licensed drivers. Unfortunately we cannot be
completely sure on this number due to the inaccessibility of transparent
information, but the figure is most probably close enough to being accurate.
4.4.2. Assuming that it would be as simple as
dividing the 11 million licensed drivers by 5 in order to establish how many
would have to be retested on an annual basis, this would equate to 2.2 million
licensed drivers having to be retested every single year, bearing in mind that
a driving licence card is valid for five years.
4.4.3. The DLTCs throughout South Africa
currently allegedly licence some 500,000 new drivers on an annual basis. To add
a further 2.2 million, which is more than four times that quantum would require
a an absolute minimum increase in the staff compliment of driving licence
examiners to be available to conduct these retests, in other words, quadruple the current driving licence
examiner staff compliment.
4.4.4. Bookings for practical driving tests
must currently be done in person. Regardless of whether this situation is
changed or not, it is a time-consuming process and it is reasonable to assume
that the same requirements will be imposed on persons wishing to renew their
4.4.5. Learner drivers who schedule their
practical driving tests currently have to wait for anything between a few days
and six months, or longer in order to undergo their practical driving test.
4.4.6. These tests are conducted on weekdays,
between 08:00 and 14:45, excluding Sundays and public holidays, and tests on
Saturdays are not available in all, or even most DLTCs. No tests are conducted
after working hours, or on public holidays.
4.4.7. A large proportion of employed persons
are unable to take time off work in order to book such retests and then undergo
them, and regardless of whether they would indeed be in a position to take the
time from their annual leave allocation, this would require that they actually
have annual leave available to them, failing which, it would constitute unpaid
second that such a person fails a retest, they would be forced into a situation
where they would need to take additional leave, which, whilst sounding easy
enough, may have enormous practical and financial implications for them.
drivers wishing to renew their driving licenses are generally economically
active individuals who generally do not have the luxury of unlimited time off
work and who are currently subjected to DLTCs which close their doors at any
given time of the day, depending on how busy they feel they are. This situation
is already the cause of serious frustration to licensed drivers and will
definitely be exacerbated by further causing them to queue for hours on end in
order to book, let alone undergo a retest.
a currently licensed driver fail any retest for any reason whatsoever, that
driver would effectively be unlicensed to drive from that point onwards, and
until such time as they can successfully pass the test. In many cases, this
would mean that the driver in question would become economically inactive if
they cannot afford to engage the services of a licensed driver to drive them.
Furthermore, such a situation could conceivably constitute valid grounds for
dismissal by a company which cannot afford to lose the services of that driver.
is also important to note that the employment of some people is directly linked
to them holding a valid driving licence. Sales representatives, company
messengers and drivers, consultants, self-employed persons, etc. all rely
heavily on being licensed to drive and the consequences of not being so could
lead to them losing their jobs/income. Clearly, if this happens as a direct
result of them genuinely being dangerous drivers, as would be the case under
the AARTO Act should they incur sufficient demerit points to cause their
licenses to be suspended, this would be their own fault. However, if this were
to happen based on the arbitrary subjective opinion
of a driving licensing examiner, it would be disastrous for them.
is additionally relevant to bear in mind that a large proportion of currently
licensed drivers will have to undergo formal training in order to satisfy the
current K53 requirements since they obtained their driving licenses prior to
the introduction of K53. This will, in addition to the expense incurred as a
result of it, further require additional time off work for such drivers, thus
further placing a significant strain on the economy of South Africa.
4.5. Legislative issues
4.5.1. The construction of this proposed
regulation is so loose and vague that it will most definitely lead to its
4.5.2. The question must be asked “what
exactly does the entire contents of regulation 107D mean and what is it
intended to achieve?” since it does not
define any objective prescribed test but leaves the practical tests to the subjective
opinion of an examiner of driving licenses. Apart from sub regulations 2(a) and
2(d), everything else contained in this regulation is subject to the subjective
opinion of an examiner of driving licenses. The vagueness and ambiguousness of the regulation renders it unlawful.
is there to stop an examiner of driving licenses subjecting one person to a
minimal “test” or casual observation whilst subjecting another to what is
tantamount to jumping through hoops, depending on how that examiner wishes to
treat a particular individual?
further DO NOT find anything in the
regulations which prescribes what would happen were to fail his or her retest.
Must such a person now start from scratch and obtain a learners licence again?
this so-called “retest” does not prescribe any standard test criteria upon
which a person may be passed or failed what recourse does the holder of a valid
driving licence due for renewal have if he or she is arbitrarily failed on such
4.5.3. It can be successfully argued that one
of the key areas South Africa needs to be addressing, is reviewing and
modernising is the K53 driving system which is currently used, in some cases to train new drivers, but in
all cases, to test new drivers:
numerous so-called “upgrades” in the
K53 manual since its inception, the latest version thereof is almost a decade
old – dated August 2005 and implemented on 7 April 2006.
is apparently a 2015 version thereof which has NOT been promulgated yet, however this draft does modernise the
system to a sufficient extent and has apparently been drafted without so much
as seeking any inputs from ALL
national driving school/instructor associations, nor from any road safety
this standard claiming to be a
“defensive driving” technique, in reality, it serves as nothing more than a
series of pronounced actions which need to be demonstrated to an examiner in
order to pass a test.
is a well-known and demonstrated fact that most drivers discard almost every
provision of the K53 system the second they acquire their full driving
licenses. This anomaly can most likely be attributed to the human psyche
presuming that what they had to pronounce in order to convince a driving
licence examiner that they were in fact doing their “observations” appears to hold no value in practical driving.
is currently NO legislative
requirement for any learner driver to undergo even a minimum level of formal
training with a qualified driving instructor. The vast majority of drivers who
do go to a qualified, but often, unqualified driving instructor do so purely
for purposes of brushing up on the
K53 requirements they will be tested on. This typically involves one or two,
one hour lessons with a driving
instructor, the choice of which typically goes to the lowest bidder, where they
are taught the play-acting required in order to convince an examiner that they
are, for example, performing the requisite observations.
performing observations for purposes of the test it is mostly necessary for the
driver to artificially pronounce the observations they are performing to such
an extent that they end up bouncing their heads around like something from the
Amityville Horror. This is done purely to convince the examiner that they have
done these observations, rather than to perform do the requisite safety checks.
the subjective opinion of the examiner as to the actual performance of these
checks has caused the majority of failures since the criterion was introduced
and a person undergoing the test has absolutely no defence whatsoever against
examiners who wish to fail them for one reason or another, including but not
limited to wanting to bring an early end to the test, encourage the person to pay a bribe, etc. through repeated
hazard perception testing is required in South Africa, despite the fact that
this has been a requirement in numerous countries to which South Africa looks
up to and likes to cite as being successful in reducing their road carnage have
incorporated such tests into their licensing systems for ages now.
system of vehicle control which uses a standard uniform approach to hazards has
been specifically excluded from the K53 manuals from the outset, yet this forms
the heart of what the K53 and advanced driving system should incorporate.
188.8.131.52. The value of the K53 test with respect
to encouraging defensive driving and road safety is therefore highly
questionable and wide open to abuse by corrupt officials.
184.108.40.206. Re-looking of the K53 testing should
therefore be the starting point in addressing road safety issues including
formalizing the driver training industry by introducing some minimum standards
for and registration of trainers
4.6. The facilitation of FURTHER corruption
4.6.1. In the absence of the TOTAL ERADICATION of corruption in
DLTCs, the introduction of this provision will, without a shadow of a doubt,
lead to a sharp escalation in the corrupt activities that currently prevails in
DLTCs throughout South Africa due to the informal “one on one” procedure that
is envisaged in the new regulations.
4.6.2. It is a sad fact that the true levels
of corrupt activities in DLTCs is impossible to quantify accurately due to the
relatively private nature of corrupt
transactions. While some people are blatant in stating that they have indeed
engaged in corrupt activities in acquiring their driving licenses, it can be
categorically stated that persons who are willing to reveal this fact merely
represent the tip of the iceberg, since most people would never admit to having
committed a crime.
4.6.3. It is more than apparent that licensing
authorities countrywide have done little or nothing to combat corruption in
their DLTCs and sadly, there is actually a benefit to the revenues DLTCs receive
that arises out of repeated testing of individuals who fail their driving
licenses, some of whom are repeatedly failed by examiners until such time as
they capitulate and pay a bribe. It can therefore be deduced that there is
little or no motivation for these authorities to tackle corruption effectively
since it would undoubtedly lead to a reduction in their revenues.
4.6.4. The second that the pool of parties to
fail when being tested increases, so will the pool of persons who will be
willing to pay a bribe in order to circumvent the undesired consequences of
failing a retest for their driving licence. This pool will grow significantly
if currently licensed drivers are brought into it, and this is more especially
relevant insofar as currently licensed drivers who rely on their licenses to
make a living will be all the more inclined to pay a bribe in order to retain
their driving licenses – and their livelihood.
4.7. Current serious deficiencies in
Professional Driving Permits (PrDP)
4.7.1. If you refer to the actual contents of
our submissions at the 2013 National Road Safety Summit, you will discover that
it was our assertion that there currently exists a serious deficiency in the
issue of Professional Driving Permits.
4.7.2. Whereas additional training and
evaluation of drivers seeking a PrDP for dangerous goods, no similar
requirement exists for a PrDP for passengers. This anomaly is preposterous in
the extreme, since it would appear that a greater value is placed on the
transportation of dangerous goods than on the preservation of human lives.
4.8.1. In light of the forgoing and the serious
issues it exposes, it is our recommendation that this proposed insertion into
the National Road Traffic Regulations be scrapped in its entirety until such
CORRUPTION HAS BEEN TOTALLY ERRADICATED
IN ALL DLTCs;
personnel and testing facilities in all DLTCs countrywide have been increased
sufficiently to cater for the demand of practical tests for both, new and
currently licensed drivers;
driver testing is available on a 24/7/365 basis;
times for tests of any period of time have been reduced to twenty-four hours,
at the very longest;
Department of Transport AND ALL
provincial and local licensing authorities can prove that corruption has been
eradicated and can demonstrate that sufficient budgets exist in order to
facilitate ALL of the above; and
proper, formalised and prescribed defensive driving training and testing regime
has been legislated and implemented for persons wishing to acquire a PrDP for
the transportation of passengers for
gain and/or in motor vehicles for which an operator card is required;
a person has undergone an approved passenger transport training regime, they MUST undergo a properly defined,
prescribed and legislated passenger transport PrDP test at a DLTC; and
time they wish to renew their PrDP, they MUST
be retested and successfully passed such test before having their passenger
transport PrDP renewed.
the appeals process which currently exists with respect to practical driving
licence tests will have to be extended to PrDP testing procedures.
In the absence ALL of the forgoing,
Justice Project South Africa will not only oppose this proposed amendment to
the National Road Traffic Regulations, but will actively and urgently have to
consider seeking relief on behalf of its members from the Courts to prevent the
extreme prejudice and threat to the economy which will be caused by its
5. Amendment of regulation 247 of the
This draft regulation amendment reads
“(1) No person shall operate on a public
road a goods vehicle conveying persons unless that portion of the vehicle in
which such persons are being conveyed is enclosed to a height of-
(a) at least 350 millimetres above the surface upon which such person is
(b) at least 900 millimetres above the surface on which such person is
in a manner and with a material of sufficient strength to prevent such person
from falling from such vehicle when it is in motion.
(2) No person shall convey more than 5 persons in the goods compartment of a
goods vehicle, the gross vehicle mass of which is less than 3 500 kilograms.
(3) The provisions of this regulation shall only apply in respect of a person
conveying persons as their employer during the scope of employment of such
Provided that no person shall be conveyed in the goods compartment together
with any tools or goods, except their personal effects, unless that portion in
which such persons are being conveyed is separated by means of a partition,
from the portion in which such goods are being conveyed.".
5.1. We have significant and stringent
objections to this proposed amendment since it is thoroughly nonsensical.
5.2. Firstly, whilst South Africa’s available
road fatality and injury data is useless with respect to determining where in a
motor vehicle a passenger was seated at the time of a collision, there is
sufficient anecdotal evidence which shows that persons seated in the goods
compartment of a light delivery vehicle, truck or trailer attached to a heavy
goods vehicle suffer significant injury when such a vehicle crashes. Typically,
such passengers are ejected from these vehicles in the event of a collision at
any speed greater than a snail’s pace and even if they aren’t they are flung
about and injured.
5.3. It is currently law that any person
seated in a motor vehicle, excluding a motorcycle MUST wear a seatbelt, yet the second a person is conveyed in the goods
compartment of a light delivery vehicle, truck or trailer attached to a heavy
goods vehicle, this provision falls away – mainly because the goods
compartments of light delivery vehicles, trucks and trailers attached to heavy
goods vehicles are designed to carry GOODS,
5.4. The South African Revenue Service
(SARS) currently has a policy of allowing VAT refunds on purchases of
single-cab bakkies where these vehicles are purchased by registered VAT vendors
for commercial use.
5.4.1. Small contractors who convey their
employees in the goods compartment of light delivery vehicles typically do so
as a direct result of the fact SARS refuses to refund VAT to them for
double-cab bakkies, with SARS citing the pathetic excuse that a double-cab
bakkie is a so called “luxury
5.4.2. It therefore follows that the greed of
government has directly contributed to road deaths and injuries by acting in
such an unconscionable manner towards businesses.
5.5. Subregulation (3) makes the ENTIRE provisions of Regulation 274
applicable ONLY to “a person conveying persons as their
employer during the scope of employment of such persons”.
5.5.1. Quite aside from the appalling grammar
used in subregulation (3) the Minister and Department of Transport appears to
be under the glaringly obvious FALSE impression that when light delivery vehicles crash, the only
persons travelling on such vehicles are the employees of companies who are
additionally only being conveyed “during
the scope of employment”.
5.5.2. Whilst this may indeed be the case in
trucks and in trailers attached to heavy goods vehicles, which are additionally
not contemplated in this proposed regulation amendment, it is most certainly NOT true in the case of light delivery
5.5.3. A significant proportion of persons
conveyed in the goods compartments of light delivery vehicles (bakkies) are NOT employed by the owners of such
vehicles, but are family members and/or children, persons seeking a lift and
sometimes even conveyed for monetary reward, etc. It can therefore be concluded
that the Minister and Department of Transport regards the lives of employees as
being more valuable than the lives of any other persons.
5.5.4. This further raises the question of
whether the Department of Transport considers itself to be a Trade Union,
concerned with the rights and wellbeing of workers alone, as opposed to being a
Department concerned about road safety and the safety of all persons.
5.5.5. The ridiculousness of this provision
is further exacerbated by the impossibility of enforcing it.
exactly does the Department of Transport think that a traffic officer will be
able to identify the status of any persons being conveyed in the goods
compartments of goods vehicles as being employees of the owner of the vehicle
if those persons are the employees of the vehicle owner, what is to stop that
vehicle owner raising the valid defence that he or she is not conveying their
employees “in the scope of their
employment” but is instead giving them a lift to or from home from or to
work and such employees agreeing that this is the case because they don’t want
to get their “boss” into trouble for fear of losing their jobs?
5.5.6. It is also worth noting that the South
African Police Service makes extensive use of light delivery vehicles in its
operations and, despite installing metal canopies to and installing steel
benches in such vehicles, it provides no seatbelts therein.
vehicles are sometimes used to give detained persons “rough rides” wherein they
are flung around in the back of these bakkies by, inter alia engaging in harsh steering and braking. This phenomenon
is not unique to South Africa, however the lack of seatbelts therein is
uncommon elsewhere in the world.
even has the audacity to then place stickers on their vehicles “certifying” them to carry a certain
number of “persons”.
question therefore must be asked – whom exactly makes such a certification and
on the basis of what legislated or national standard is this certification
made, since we cannot find any?
is no excuse for endangering the lives of any person, even if such person happens
to be under arrest by SAPS. It is our assertion that if government wishes to
regulate the transportation of persons in the goods compartments of light
delivery vehicles it should start by getting its own house in order, BEFORE seeking to impose provisions on
5.6.1. If regulation 247 had ANYTHING to do with road safety and
preventing death or injury, instead of generating fines revenues for traffic
authorities, it would read:
person shall operate on a public road a goods vehicle conveying persons unless
such persons are in the passenger compartment of such motor vehicle.”
5.6.2. This provision should NOT be further defined to be applicable
or inapplicable to any particular section of road user, but should constitute a
TOTAL BAN on conveying any persons on
the load bays of goods vehicles.
5.6.3. Such a provision would however present
a significant challenge with respect
to the so called South African “roads
network”, particularly in rural areas where gravel roads, many of which are
inaccessible to motor cars and/or minibuses.
5.6.4. As you should be aware, the current
South African “roads network” comprises 760,000 kilometres of roads, of which
only 161,831 kilometres (22%) are paved. The remaining 591,869 (78%) of roads
in South Africa are gravel roads, many of which, to quote the Free State MEC
for roads, are “dongas” which are inaccessible to motor cars, minibuses, etc.
5.6.5. Therefore, bringing about a total ban
on conveying persons in the load bays/goods compartments of goods vehicles is
not only impractical but would relegate people who live in rural areas managed
by ethically bankrupt municipalities and provincial authorities who see no need
to maintain the gravel roads they provide to having to travel vast distances on
foot or on a bicycle.
5.6.6. Perhaps regulation 247 should
therefore be amended to read “No person shall operate on a PAVED public
road a goods vehicle conveying persons unless such persons are in the passenger
compartment of such motor vehicle.”
5.6.7. This, we believe, would address the
current problem without disadvantaging rural communities who have very few
motorised transportation options open to them.
6. Amendment of regulation 250 of the
This proposed amendment reads:
“No person shall on a public road convey-
(a) school children; or
(b) any person for reward, unless an exemption is issued to such person in
terms of the provisions of the NLTA, in the goods compartment of a motor
6.1. Once again we see an acutely inane
provision being proposed.
6.2. We refer you to our comments in
paragraphs 5 hereof, most of which are similarly applicable to this proposed
amendment and accordingly reject the contents thereof.
7. Amendment of regulation 292 of the
This proposed amendment reads as
“292. General speed limit
general speed limit of -
40 kilometres per hour shall apply in respect of every public road or section
thereof, situated within an urban area;
(b) 80 kilometres per hour shall apply in respect of every public road or
section thereof, other than a freeway, situated outside an urban area; and
(c) 120 kilometres per hour shall apply in respect of every freeway: Provided
that a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour shall apply in cases wherein such
freeway passes through a residential area.”
7.1. This proposed amendment is so fraught
with problems that it is difficult to know where to start with addressing these
issues. We shall however do our best to do so.
7.2. Definitions of public roads and the
areas they fall within, in the National Road Traffic Act
7.2.1. In order to even begin to contemplate
general speed limits, it is necessary to understand the definitions of the
various areas and roads defined in Section 1 of the National Road Traffic Act.
Currently, with the exception of a “public road” only the following definitions
applicable to public roads exist in the Act:
road” means any road, street or
thoroughfare or any other place (whether a thoroughfare or not) which is
commonly used by the public or any section thereof or to which the public or
any section thereof has a right of access, and includes—
(a) the verge of any such road, street or thoroughfare;
(b) any bridge, ferry or drift traversed by any such road, street or
(c) any other work or object forming part of or connected with or belonging to
such road, street or thoroughfare.
is only one particular area and one particular public road defined in the
National Road Traffic Act:
area” means that portion of the area of
jurisdiction of a local authority which has by actual survey been subdivided
into erven or is surrounded by surveyed erven, and includes the public roads
means a public road or a section of a public road which has been designated as
a freeway by an appropriate road traffic sign.
“residential area” is NOT contemplated in the Act, nor is a “rural
area”, or for that matter, any other area.
7.3. The difference between the general and
a posted speed limit
7.3.1. It is common cause that the relevant
general speed limit is applicable to any and all public roads upon which NO road traffic sign displaying a
different speed limit is erected. It must be noted however that the existence
of this anomaly in the South African context can and does have some serious
7.3.2. Most licensed drivers in South Africa,
particularly those who spend the majority of their lives driving on roads where
road traffic signs displaying speed limits are erected, become blissfully
unaware of the meaning of the “general speed limit” and in many cases, what
those general speed limits are, within a relatively short time of acquiring
their driving licenses.
7.3.3. If one was to take the time and effort
to poll currently licensed drivers on the general speed limit applicable on a
public road outside of an urban area, you may be shocked to discover that a
high proportion of South African driving licence holders are under the
impression that it is 120km/h, not 100km/h.
7.3.4. Additionally, because no road traffic
signs displaying the general speed limits are erected anywhere in South Africa
as they are in Europe for example, drivers are never reminded of this and
people including visitors to South Africa are expected to simply know what the
general speed limits are. Examples of these sign boards appear below:
7.3.5. However, the problems that are caused
by setting speed limits higher than the general speed limit are significant and
cannot be underestimated.
people are creatures of habit, where speed limits higher than the general speed
limit are erected on public roads, particularly those running through urban
areas, this has the effect of mentally conditioning a motorist to believe that
such higher speed limit is, or should be applicable to all roads of similar
width or visual appearance running through such and other residential areas.
second that a lower speed limit, or indeed, no road traffic sign displaying a speed
limit is erected, most drivers become blind to lower speed limits or
automatically assume that the speed limit applicable to that road is the same
as a visually similar road with a higher speed limit.
example the speed limit on the R50 Pretoria → Delmas road was set by MEC Ismail
Vadi’s Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport at a ridiculously and
exceedingly dangerous high speed limit. Despite this road comprising a single,
narrow lane in each direction in many places, the speed limit thereon is 120km/h, which is totally inappropriate
for that road. It doesn’t even come close to resembling a freeway.
is not unreasonable to assume that the R50 is NOT the only public road in Gauteng, or indeed in South Africa
where a completely inappropriate speed limit has been set. All one has to do is
to travel to Hartebeespoort from Johannesburg or on many roads in Mpumalanga to
see the narrow, windy and poorly maintained roads, many of which are riddled
with potholes to see how dangerous the 100km/h posted speed limits and/or the
general speed limits are.
other roads leading through residential areas also have speed limits higher
than the general speed limit set for them however, unlike in the example above,
these speed limits are generally arrived at by qualified road engineers who
design those roads and in order to ensure the reasonable flow of traffic, so as
to inter alia reduce congestion.
7.3.6. When it comes to roads situated in “urban areas” the incredibly broad
definition thereof creates a vast discrepancy between what an ordinary and
reasonable person regards to be an “urban area” and the actual definition
thereof in the National Road Traffic Act.
way of example, the entire Metropolitan Municipality of Ekurhuleni is divided
into erven. This includes vast, unpopulated areas of farmlands where a motorist
can travel tens of kilometres without so much as encountering another living
that a speed limit higher than the general speed limit may, in terms of Section
59 of the National Road Traffic Act, be set for any public road other than a
freeway, forcing motorists to crawl along at a snail’s pace in Ekurhuleni (and
elsewhere), simply because the general speed limit has been lowered is
ridiculous at best.
7.3.7. General speed limits for paved and
gravel roads are NOT separately contemplated
in the National Road Traffic Act, despite the fact that bringing a vehicle to a
halt on a gravel road takes significantly longer due to the lack of traction
again remind you that the current South African “roads network” comprises
760,000 kilometres of roads, of which only 161,831 kilometres (22%) are paved.
The remaining 591,869 (78%) of roads in South Africa are gravel roads.
presents a significant problem because, unlike the countries in the first world
South African authorities love citing as examples of where things are bigger and better but simultaneously
have provisions which should be present in South Africa, we have a far greater
proportion of dangerous roads than they do and anyone who thinks that it takes
an equal distance at the same speed to bring a vehicle to a halt on a gravel
road as it does on a paved road is clearly delusional.
general speed limit on a public road situated outside of an urban area is
currently 100km/h and this proposed amendment seeks to drop that to 80km/h. Considering
that 78% of South Africa’s roads network comprises gravel roads, it would
certainly make sense to drop the general speed limit on gravel roads situated outside of an urban area to 80km/h, or
possibly even lower, however on paved, and in many instances, proper dual
carriageways with wide centre medians separating traffic flowing in different
directions, doing so will merely lead to people discarding the general speed
limit, or if by some miracle motorists suddenly decide to obey general speed
limits, unnecessarily long travel times, thereby exacerbating the issue of
driving whilst fatigued.
7.4. Enforcement of speed limits in South
7.4.1. It is clearly necessary for us to
remind the Department of Transport that despite the claim that “speed kills”,
the vast majority of so called “speed
enforcement” exercises in South Africa is and remains practiced by utilising
7.4.2. Bizarrely, we have NEVER heard of any speed
measuring/enforcement exercise taking place on any gravel road in South Africa
and it is apparent that our traffic authorities prefer to stick to the easy pickings presented to them on paved
7.4.3. According to the Road Traffic
Infringement Agency, in the case of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police
Department for example, 92.56% of the 6,041,555 (5,591,974) traffic fines they
issued in the 2013/14 financial year were CAMERA
NOT ONE of these allegedly “speeding”
motorists was stopped at the time, thereby halting their commission of the
NOT ONE of these fines saved ANY lives or prevented ANY injuries; and
NOT ONE of these fines prevented ANY crashes.
they did was to make money for the JMPD and the RTIA.
7.4.4. In jurisdictions where more physical
enforcement takes place, where motorists are stopped at the time and issued
with citations, it is highly unlikely that the associated fine has any remedial
effect whatsoever on many of those fined.
7.4.5. Sadly, so-called “speed enforcement” in South Africa is and remains
focussed purely on generating revenue for the traffic authorities and has
little or nothing to do with road safety.
7.4.6. Reducing the general speed limits on
public roads in South Africa WILL NOT
have the effect of slowing drivers down but DEFINITELY WILL drive further revenues for the practically useless
traffic authorities who choose to focus on speed and the revenues they can
derive from it, instead of the plethora of other moving violations committed on
our roads every single hour of every single day, or indeed, to enforce speed
7.5. Reducing the general speed limit
applicable to roads situated in urban areas to 40km/h
7.5.1. There is more than sufficient evidence
to suggest that few drivers adhere to the current 60km/h general speed limit
applicable in urban areas.
7.5.2. Reducing the speed limit applicable to
roads situated in urban areas to 40km/h will serve no other purpose than to
drive further revenue generation for traffic authorities.
7.5.3. We feel that it is necessary to point
out to the Minister and Department of Transport that there is nothing to stop traffic authorities
from posting lower speed limits in
“high-risk zones” and properly enforcing those limits.
7.5.4. There is also nothing to stop the Department of Transport from defining a
“residential area” in the National Road Traffic Act and setting a lower general
speed limit therein.
this regard, we refer you to your own R403 residential (woonerf) road traffic
sign which, despite existing can hardly ever be spotted on any public roads in
South Africa, and where it does exist, is often accompanied by an incorrect
40km/h speed limit sign.
are sure we don’t need to remind any of you that where this sign is displayed,
the speed limit is 30km/h. Therefore,
we have to ask why it would be deemed to be sensible to lower the general speed
limit in “urban areas” to 10km/h higher than
the 30km/h speed limit which applies where this sign is erected and where a
real risk of children being on roads would exist.
7.6. Reducing the general speed limit
applicable to roads situated outside urban areas to 80km/h
7.6.1. The current 100km/h general speed
limit applicable to paved roads situated outside urban areas is sufficiently
low in most areas, except where the roads therein are poorly maintained and/or
riddled with potholes by the irresponsible local/provincial authorities who are
supposed to maintain them.
7.6.2. This is of course excluding a proposed general speed limit on gravel roads situated outside urban areas we propose in our
recommendations where the speed limit on those roads should indeed be lowered
to 80km/h or lower. No road traffic signs would have to be displayed since it
is sufficiently easy to determine if the road you are driving on is paved or is
a gravel road.
7.7. Reducing the general speed limit on
freeways running through urban areas to 100km/h
7.7.1. This proposed provision, whilst
possibly sounding sensible to some,
is ridiculous in the extreme.
7.7.2. Since the so-called GFIP is still so topical at the moment, we shall use this
as an example of the ludicrous nature of this provision.
the fact that the some of GFIP has been engineered and built to be a high speed
link between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and in places comprises of up to six
lanes in each direction, the entire GFIP runs through urban areas. Reducing the
speed limit to 100km/h will not only unnecessarily increase travel times but
will also negatively impact on traffic flow and hence traffic congestion. It is
our understanding that the GFIP was embarked upon specifically to REDUCE traffic congestion.
same applies to all other sections of the GFIP, all of which are physically
separated from the urban areas they traverse by robust concrete walls which
will crush even the heaviest of motor vehicles before they allow them to ramp
up or plummet into a populated area.
7.7.3. Other examples of urban freeways,
which would be better termed as being motorways since there is nothing “free”
about driving on them are the N17, N4, N14, etc.
7.7.4. Then there are the examples of the M1
and M2 motorways in Johannesburg, both of which have speed limits of 100km/h
and 80km/h posted upon them. Why would it be deemed as being in any way
necessary to set a general speed limit of 100km/h on them?
7.8.1. In light of the forgoing, Justice
Project South Africa makes the following recommendations:
use of existing provisions in the
National Road Traffic Act and Regulations to lower speed limits in RESIDENTIAL AREAS, near schools, etc.
you are stuck on the idea of reducing the general speed limit in urban areas,
then introduce a definition for a “residential area” into the National Road
Traffic Act so as to remove the ridiculously broad definition of an “urban
area” and adjust that definition accordingly.
you are so convinced that you can bring about road safety by decree, legislate
and enforce that proper traffic calming engineering solutions are installed at
all intersections and on all public roads to physically force the reduction in the speeds motorists drive down
them, thereby forcing local and provincial authorities to spend the monies they
generate from traffic law enforcement fines on road safety instead of “keeping
rates and taxes down” as Chief Z Nyanda claims the purpose of traffic fines is.
By “proper traffic calming engineering solutions” we are NOT referring to the useless “mini circles” some bright spark
decided to introduce, but proper roundabouts, raised intersections, speed
Surprisingly, whilst the Department of Transport
seems to be so fixated on speed issues, it seems to have no regard for speed
differentials on freeways which can and often do lead to serious crashes. We
therefore urge you to:
implement and enforce a MINIMUM speed
limit of 80km/h on ALL freeways
where the speed limit is 120km/h so as to minimise crashes which are caused by
the speed differentials by vehicles travelling in the same direction on
MINIMUM speed limits of at
least two thirds of the speed limit applicable to any other road commonly
called a “freeway” or a dual carriageway separated by a centre median and upon
which there are off-ramps.
8. Insertion of regulation 318A in the
This proposed insertion reads as
“318A. Prohibition of operating on the public
road of a goods vehicle the gross vehicle mass of which exceeds 9 000 kilograms
at certain times
No person shall operate on the public road in an urban area a goods vehicle the
gross vehicle mass of which exceeds 9000 kilograms between the hours of 06h00
to 09h00 and 17h00 to 20h00 Monday to Friday except weekends and public
The provisions of subregulation (1) shall not apply in case of emergencies, to
the driver of a fire -fighting vehicle, a fire-fighting response vehicle, an
emergency medical response vehicle, a rescue vehicle or an ambulance, who
drives such vehicle in the performance of his or her duties, a traffic officer
or a person appointed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995
(Act No.68 of 1995), who drives a vehicle in the carrying out of his or her
duties, any person driving a vehicle while responding to a disaster as
contemplated in the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) or a
person who drives a vehicle while it is used in connection with the
construction or maintenance of a public road or the rendering of an essential
8.1. In the ideal world, as it is in many
parts of Europe, the USA, etc. this proposal would constitute a no-brainer and South
Africa would be more than justified in banning extra heavy goods vehicles from
urban areas and freeways during these times in order to improve traffic flow
during rush hours and to remove the risk of crashes involving heavy goods
vehicles occurring in urbanised areas if South Africa was part of that Utopian,
8.2. Unfortunately however, South Africa is
not part of the ideal world, not even by a long shot.
8.2.1. The vast majority of freight in South
Africa and goods on its supermarket shelves are conveyed on our roads due to
the fact that the rail network has been so severely neglected and mismanaged by
the Department of Transport for a long time now.
8.2.2. Road freight vehicles are currently
targeted by hijackers who target – in some cases – the vehicles themselves, but
in most cases, the cargo they are conveying.
8.2.3. Whilst a heavy goods vehicle is in
motion – even if it is in heavy traffic, it is a more difficult target to hit,
however, the second one stands still, it becomes a sitting duck for armed and
often violent criminals who will stop at nothing to steal the cargo it is
8.2.4. Truck stops in general and secure ones
in particular are few and far between and few, if any are situated anywhere
close to urban areas. Therefore, should such a provision be promulgated it can
be concluded that these vehicles will have to stop on/beside public roads in
urban areas for the six hours of each day this provision seeks to impose upon
8.2.5. Even if a heavy goods vehicle were to
manage to reach its destination at a shopping centre by 06:00 it would have to
park at the side of the road at the entrance to that shopping centre and wait
until 09:00 before it could move a single centimetre to offload its cargo.
8.2.6. The backlog caused by this anomaly
would have a massive knock-on effect on all goods vehicles making deliveries to
such shopping centres and it is debatable whether this would be cleared before
17:00 when the next round of banning on operation occurs, thereby causing the
remaining heavy goods vehicles to have to wait until 09:00 the following
morning before they can offload their cargo.
8.2.7. It must also be remembered that if a
heavy goods vehicle is still on the premises of the shopping centre it is
making delivery to by the time 17:00 comes around, it will have to stay put
until 20:00, thereby blocking any other deliveries by heavy goods vehicles with
a GVM of less than 9,000kg since
such lighter vehicles wouldn’t be able to enter the premises.
the introduction of this regulation will cause a huge lowering of
efficiencies in the movement of goods in South Africa, which will in turn
result in significant cost increases in the transportation sector. We therefore
need to question whether the Department of Transport has even considered this,
never mind calculated the impact on inflation this will bring about.
8.3.1. In light of the forgoing, it is our
recommendation that the Department of Transport scraps this provision until
such time is it can demonstrate that it has constructed, equipped and
adequately secured sufficient truck stops situate in urban areas in order to
cater for the trucks it intends bringing to a standstill in urban areas.
9. General comments and recommendations
9.1. Most, if not all of the proposed
amendments in this gazette completely ignore the very real practicalities and
unintended consequences of imposing such provisions. They also completely and
irresponsibly ignore the fact that corruption and crime is out of control on
9.2. It has been said by some in the
Department of Transport that “desperate times call for desperate measures”. We
strongly disagree and hold the view that “desperate times call for level heads,
proper strategies, the proper implementation of effective remedial measures and
thorough and effective evaluation of any counter-measures introduced to address
the foregoing”. None of these attributes are being demonstrated by the
Department of Transport, which additionally appears to be acting like a bunch
9.3. It’s way too convenient to assert that
“laws provide the framework for enforcement” when the single largest elephant
in the room is the fact that proper and effective traffic law enforcement is
and remains little more than a pipe-dream in South Africa and corruption is
quite literally, out of control.
9.4. Justice Project South Africa
respectfully requests that the Minister and Department of Transport ceases
publishing ridiculous notions as proposed legislative changes forthwith so as
to cease consuming so much of our time, at no cost to you, in lodging our
comments and submissions to you in an attempt to avert the dire consequences of
your poorly considered, ill-advised proposed amendments will without any shadow of a
9.5. If any of the proposed amendments
contained in government gazette 38772
actually get promulgated, the Minister and Department of Transport must expect
that affected parties will be left with no choice but to consider approaching
the Courts in order to prevent the massive, reckless damage and prejudice that
will result from these provisions becoming law.
sincerely; towards safer roads and Justice for all who use them,
Justice Project South Africa