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Roadworthy testing of the future

For the last 30 years, the requirements for roadworthiness in South Africa has remained largely unchanged. During the same period, there have been major changes in vehicles, with rapid advances in technology, and with electronically controlled safety systems becoming the norm.
The current scope of the roadworthiness test includes the identification of the vehicle, the systematic check of the outside of the vehicle (which includes lights, tyres, bodywork and windows etc), the checking of the interior and all the dashboard controls, a brake efficiency test, an examination of the suspension and undercarriage, and a check of the camber and the toe, which will give an indication if the wheel alignment of the vehicle complies. The headlights are then checked with a headlight tester and a road test is performed. Only the brake efficiency test is required to be automated. For the last three years, the vehicle examiner also produces a visual image of the vehicle at the test station.
Many of our vehicle specifications and standards have been adopted from UN ECE standards. So, what happens with European regulations is probably an indication of what the future holds for South Africa with regard to vehicle standards for new vehicles.
According to a report by CITA (International Vehicle Inspection Committee), the world’s most advanced mandatory vehicle safety requirements have been published in the official journal of the EU on 16 December 2019. This revised General Safety Regulation will come into effect in July 2022 and addresses for the first time the specific concerns of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, it will gradually introduce advanced safety systems, offering new possibilities to reduce casualties, which demonstrates the EU’s strong commitment to improve road safety.  you can view the new safety regulations here:
According to the new regulation, new motor vehicles shall be equipped with the following advanced vehicle systems:

  • intelligent speed assistance;
  • alcohol interlock installation facilitation;
  • driver drowsiness and attention warning;
  • advanced driver distraction warning;
  • emergency stop signal;
  • reversing detection; and
  • event data recorder.

This regulation applies to vehicles of categories M (passenger carrying), N (goods carrying) and O (trailers), as defined in Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2018/858, and to systems, components and separate technical units designed and constructed for such vehicles.
In South Africa, legislation and standards with regard to the scope and method of a roadworthiness test (PTI) has not yet been established for electric vehicles or other alternative power trains, for electronically controlled systems, for autonomous and connected driving, nor regarding access to the data of the vehicle. In addition, there is no requirement for the testing of emissions.
As an industry, we need to continue to engage government and provide the necessary expertise to ensure that the proper regulatory framework is established to ensure that the scope of the roadworthiness test is reviewed and the means for establishing roadworthiness keeps pace with the changes in vehicle technology.
Julian Pillay, National Director, VTA