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Focusing on safety

As we move closer to the holiday season the focus is going to shift increasingly to safety and preholiday safety checks for drivers says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the RMI.
Safety is, however, an all-year problem. South Africa has one of the worst accident rates, with 14 050 people having lost their lives in road crashes in 2017. Apart from the tragic loss in lives, vehicle crashes are costing South Africa R142 billion rands, which equates to roughly 3.4% of GDP.
Our roads are 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 of vehicle components to make sure our roads are safer.
During 2017, 89% of major crashes are caused or as a result of driver behaviour, 3,4% as a result of the road environment and 6,9% were found to be as result of vehicle factors. The reality is that while there are many road safety initiatives trying to inculcate a culture of compliance with the driving public, there are still no adequate vehicle inspection controls.
Of the 12.3 million registered vehicles on our road, only 21% are required to be tested on a regular basis. We feel that in South Africa our response to “in-use” vehicle inspection controls is not adequate and vehicles are not being maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition. While the legislation for more frequent testing of vehicles has been gazetted, this is yet to be implemented.
I believe the RMI, through its 8 000 members can make a positive contribution to road safety. All of our various 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.
PTI (Periodic testing and inspection of vehicles) is an issue which we will be talking more about in the coming months. South Africa has made a commitment in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals to halve road deaths by 2020. South Africa needs to follow the same path of the many other countries around the world that have implemented PTI as part of their road safety interventions and have seen a decrease in road deaths.
The November issue of Automobil is a jam-packed issue with our Association focus fittingly on SAMBRA (page 22). SAMBRA represents the interests of the majority of the South African Motor Body Repairers across South Africa. Its members are responsible for repairing over 80% of all insured repair claims in the country.
I would like to extend a warm welcome back to Richard Green as National director for SAMBRA (page 30). Richard returns to SAMBRA after a break of nearly eight years working ‘on the other side’ of the motor repair industry. He joins at a critical time when the SAMBRA national executive committee is striving to maintain collaborative business partnerships in order to manage industry critical issues.
I would also like to encourage you to review the article on WERC, the World Engine Remanufacturers’ Council (page 42). South Africa’s Engine Remanufacturers’ Association (ERA), a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), has been instrumental in the relaunch and leadership of the world-body WERC.
The re-establishment of WERC is significant as it allows our industry to share global best practices and give the Engine Remanufacturer Trade Sector a unified voice in trade and industry matters. South Africa is represented strongly on WERC, with ERA National Executive Committee Chairman, Frank Mac NICOL being elected Chairman of WERC, and two other ERA delegates – Thys Van Eck (ERA Western Cape Committee Member) and Attie Serfontein (RMI REMAN Cluster ERA SADFIA ACRA: Director) – elected as WERC Secretary.
We look forward to hearing further developments in this regard.