At last! safer roads in sight
Some of the changes proposed in the 20th Draft Amendment to the National Road Traffic Act Regulations give us reason to feel optimistic, writes VIC OLIVER.
I am pleased to see that the Department of Transport appears to be giving very serious consideration to the introduction of amendments aimed at reducing the carnage on our roads.
One of the main amendments under consideration is the introduction of a Provisional Driving Licence. This will fall between a learner licence and a full driving licence, and will be valid for a year.
This means that anyone applying for a driver’s licence, irrespective of the category of licence, will first have to pass the K53 theoretical driver licence test and then be tested for a driving licence. However, instead of receiving a full driving licence at this point, as is currently the case, they will then be issued with a Provisional Driving Licence that will be valid for 12 months.
During this probation period, certain rules will apply. Importantly, there will be restrictions on driving after midnight and a zero alcohol rating allowance. In addition, it is proposed that the number of points allowed under the AARTO system, once it is fully operational, will be reduced from 12 to six. It is also being proposed that drivers will have to complete the probation period without any serious traffic offences before a permanent driving licence will be issued.
Presently under discussion is the consideration that potential new truck drivers first obtain a provisional light vehicle licence, and gain driving experience, before they can apply for a medium or heavy commercial vehicle licence. I believe that forcing new truck drivers to first gain driving experience in a light motor vehicle will be a good practice. It is certain to bring down the number of horrific truck accidents that occur on our roads.
I hope that during the draft amendment discussions serious consideration will be given to implementing a strict control on the maximum driving hours. I believe greedy truck and bus operators/owners who are endeavouring to maximise their vehicle uptime force their drivers to drive beyond their safe capability. In my opinion, driving beyond one’s physical capability and falling asleep at the wheel remains one of the biggest causes of road accidents involving trucks and buses.
Another proposal under discussion is the zero alcohol rating for all holders of professional driving permits.
An inspection of empty alcohol bottles and cans collected along the N3 route (the busiest trucking route in Africa) is a positive indicator that some of our long distance drivers are consuming alcohol while driving.
The 20th Draft Amendment to the National Road Traffic Act Regulations covers many more proposed amendments, and we hope to see some of the changes come into effect soon. But the old question remains – do we have the manpower and the political will to enforce the current and possible amended road traffic act regulations?
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel, 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.