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Bracing for AARTO

February 1, 2018
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The legislators gave us a break in 2017.

In 2017, some important amendments were made to the South African National Road Traffic Act to safeguard the transportation of children and other passengers in the goods compartment of a vehicle. Other amendments limiting the maximum speed of medium commercial vehicles came into full effect.

An amendment to regulation 250, published on November 11, 2016, came into effect on May 11, 2017. This amendment states that no school children may be transported for reward in the goods compartment of a vehicle.

Children and other persons may, however, be transported in the goods compartment of a vehicle if not for reward, provided that the vehicle complies with Regulation 247. The requirements include:

• The vehicle must be enclosed with material of sufficient strength to prevent the person from falling out of the vehicle when the vehicle is in motion.

• The enclosed height, when the person being transported is seated, is 350 mm above the surface upon which the person is seated.

• The enclosed height, when the person being transported is standing, is 900 mm above the surface upon which the person is standing.

The amendment further states that people may not be transported in the goods compartment of a vehicle together with any tools or equipment, except personal effects, unless the portion in which the goods are transported is properly enclosed and separated from the passenger compartment.

I was extremely pleased to see that Regulation 293 was amended to limit the speed of commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle mass rating of more than 3 500 kg, up to 9 000 kg, to 100 km/h. The implementation date was December 1, 2016.

Regulation 215 was also amended to assist in restricting the maximum speed of minibuses, buses and goods vehicles with a gross vehicle mass exceeding 3 500 kg. These, too, must be fitted with a speed governor set to a maximum speed of 100km/h.

Transport operators need to be aware that there are strong rumours in transport circles that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) act could be fully implemented in 2018, which would include the point-demerit system.

For fleet owners, the full implementation of Aarto could present some challenges if they have drivers who do not obey road-traffic laws. They could suddenly find that they have drivers who have had their driving licences suspended.

For professional truck and bus drivers, the risk of having a driving licence suspended or cancelled is a serious matter; as if this happens they will not be able to earn a living. However, on the positive side, the introduction of the driver point-demerit system will force all drivers of motor vehicles to drive with more care and obey speed limits and road signs.

This, in turn, should reduce the risk of truck accidents, as, in my opinion, many of the truck accidents are caused by drivers of light motor vehicles who disobey the law and, in turn, endanger heavy commercial vehicles.

This article is a summary of the amendments to the South African Road Traffic ACT that have affected road users in 2017 and is not a comprehensive description of all the changes. FOCUS cannot be held liable for any omissions
– ed.

Vic Oliver is one of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, and has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.

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