Over the last couple of years, the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), has been actively campaigning for the implementation of Periodic Testing in the interests of ensuring amongst others, the safe operation of vehicles on our roads, and a reduction in the unacceptably high level of accidents on South African roads.
Jakkie Olivier, Chief Executive Officer of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says with the appointment of a new National Minister of Transport, Minister Lydia Chikunga, a renewed call from industry has been sent to the Ministry requesting talks to resume around the implementation of such testing.
Olivier says that the 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. “We are unfortunately still awaiting confirmation of this date.”
“One of our main concerns is the absence of a regular regime of testing for 80% of the vehicle population. 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,” he says.
The consequence of this is that of the current vehicle population of approximately 13 million in South Africa, the biggest category is that of private motor cars and station wagons, which make up the majority of the vehicle population, and yet do not have to undergo any regular regime of testing. This means that only approximately 20% of the total current vehicle population is required to be tested.
“This is not at all reassuring in terms of establishing the state of most of the vehicles on our roads and how safe or compliant they are. 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,” he says.
Vishal Premlall, national director of the Tyres, Equipment, Parts Association is also strongly in support of more regular testing and believes other road users, and road safety are in danger if periodic passenger vehicle testing is not mandated. “We have seen the impact of unsafe vehicles on our roads, particularly when safety critical components like brakes, tyres and lighting are not maintained. Not only can technical issues cause accidents and endanger drivers and passengers but road accidents also place strain on our already overstretched emergency services,” he says.
Charl de Villiers says the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA) and its members share the same concerns. “Our members come across many instances where unroadworthy tyres are still being used on a daily basis on our roads ferrying passengers. We are in fact seeing a worrying trend emerging where smooth tyres with less that 1mm of remaining tread depth, are still being consider acceptbale by some road users,” says De Villiers.
Olivier says there are so many examples in the world where the implementation of vehicle inspection controls have not only made a positive impact on road safety and reduced road fatalities, but also positively changed the culture of road safety by impacting driver consciousness and contientiousness.
South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) Managing Executive, Nduduzo Chala concurs saying, “Too many lives are lost on South African roads and a large contributor of this is unsafe vehicles. We support the call for more regular testing in an effort to address the high level of road carnage in South Africa. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation there are over 12 thousand fatalities every year, and interventions such as these are welcomed and required.”
The RMI will be renewing its efforts this year to engage with Government on addressing the urgent issue of more frequent vehicle testing.