Focus on safety – a word from RMI’s CEO

As we move closer to the holiday season the focus is going to shift increasingly to safety and preholiday safety checks for drivers.  Regrettably, South Africa has one of the worst accident rates. Over the last 2021/2022 festive season (1 December 2021 – 11 January 2022) there were 1808 fatalities and 1395 fatal crashes.  

Rather than wait for the last minute, this is the time we need motor vehicle owners to be sending their cars in to do those really critical safety checks before heading off on holiday. It is concerning that our roads continue to be plagued with unroadworthy vehicles where many of the safety critical components have long been neglected. These vehicles are death traps, not only for the passengers in the vehicle but for other road users too. We have to get serious about regular maintenance and servicing of vehicle components to make sure our roads are safer.

According to the RTMC Road Crash Report 2020, 17% of major crashes (in which more than 5 people are killed) are attributed to Vehicle Factors. This is a strong indictment on vehicle safety, and road accidents are not only costing South Africa lives but billions in Rands too. In South Africa, vehicle defects or un-roadworthiness is certainly a contributor to the fatal road crashes that occur each year. 

When major crashes have been investigated in-depth, and the factors contributing to accidents, the vehicle types and the road environment have been taken into consideration.  The major factors of vehicle defects causing fatal crashes can be attributed to tyres bursting prior to the crash; faulty brakes; unroadworthy vehicle, faulty headlights and tyre failure. This is a clear indicator that maintenance is not happening regularly enough.  And yet still only 21% I assume the 21 is a publicly recorded number of our vehicles are required to be tested on a regular basis.

The RMI through its Vehicle Testing Association (VTA) has been campaigning for many years now to see the legislation passed for Periodic Vehicle Testing (PTI). Several years after the legislation for more regular vehicle inspections was promulgated by South Africa’s Minister of Transport, the implementation is yet to happen.  The legislation was published with implementation “at a date to be determined by the Minister”. To date, there has been no mention of even a suggested implementation date. Should the legislation be implemented it would enforce those vehicles 10 years and older be tested every 2 years. This really begs the question why is South Africa not passing the legislation? We have seen countless examples from other countries showing the success of this type of approach.

As the RMI, with our 8 000 businesses across the country, we are strongly placed to make a positive contribution to road safety. All of our associations are involved in the upkeep and maintenance throughout the life of the in-use vehicle, in terms of its sale, maintenance, repair and testing. It is our strong belief that should a vehicle be maintained in a roadworthy and safe condition, it will have a positive impact on road safety and decrease the number of fatalities from road crashes. Further it will create jobs in the retail and vehicle testing sectors and save the economy billions.

I encourage our members to engage with your customers to remind them to think about doing these safety checks in November and to particularly check the safety critical components on their cars.

As we have done in the past, I also encourage you to think about offering this testing free of charge to South Africans. This is our way of giving back and together I feel confident we can make a real difference in saving lives this festive season.

RMI’s CEO - Jakkie Olivier