MAKE WAY: Despite South Africa having the second-highest road death rate in the world, nearly 500 000 professional drivers are still working without proper documentation. Image: Shutterstock.
Nearly 500 000 professional drivers are working without proper documentation in South Africa. With South Africa still having the second-highest road-death rate in the world, isn’t it high time we checked the qualifications of the people we employ?
The problem was highlighted in a recent Arrive Alive article published on Wheels24 in February 2015.
The managing director of iFacts, Jenny Reid, says anyone who spends a significant amount of time on our freeways will know that you require nerves of steel and an advanced driver’s course to arrive at your destination with your life and your sanity intact. However, this really is no laughing matter. The intolerable fatality rate on our roads must be addressed urgently.
During February 2015 alone more than 650 people died on South Africa's roads. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the deaths were from 578 crashes recorded between from February 1-27. Most were in Gauteng (128 fatal crashes, 136 deaths). KZN was second-worst (94 fatal crashes, 102 deaths).
What is happening on our roads? Why are there so many accidents and what is being done to prevent them? I believe that charging unqualified drivers with culpable homicide, as was the case with theN12 horror crash driver Isaac Maruding, is a good start.
In fact I would go as far as to say that a charge of murder would not be out of place for individuals that have no business behind the wheel of a large vehicle that could cause untold tragedy..
However, there is a huge onus on the employers of these drivers.
Information from the RTMC indicates that there was a total of 433 973 expired professional driving permits (PrDPs) recorded on the National Traffic Information System on December 31 2014. This means that of the total number of permits issued only 57% were valid.
To obtain a PrDP a person must produce a medical fitness certificate and maintain a clean criminal record. That doesn’t seem like that much to ask to keep our roads safe.
Before you employ your next driver, check that he or she is actually legally licensed to drive. According to the RTMC, there are almost half a million drivers operating on South African roads without proper documentation. As a result, owners of freight and public transport are being warned that they will be held liable for the failure of their drivers to renew their professional driver’s permits.
Advocate Makhosini Msibi, CEO of the RTMC, warned transport operators that it was their duty to ensure that both the driver and the vehicle were fit to operate on a public road. The Road Traffic Act requires them to exercise proper control over their drivers and ensure compliance with all provisions of the law - including requirements in respect of professional driving permits.
To improve compliance and safety on the roads the RTMC, with other traffic enforcement agencies, have decided to take vigilance up a notch by investigating all major accidents to establish the compliance level of operators. According to Section 50 of the National Traffic Act, traffic authorities have the right to suspend or cancel the licence of any operator who has failed to exercise his or her duties in terms of the Act
NO LICENCE, NO INSURANCE
Operators are warned: Don’t be surprised if authorities show up at your door unannounced. Inspections will be carried out, offenders will be identified, and action taken against those who do not comply with the law. I must applaud the RTMC for this; we can only hope that they commit to sticking with their plan.
It’s also well worth noting that no insurance company will pay out on an accident claim where the collision was caused by an unqualified driver. So, the next time you’re thinking of hiring a trucking company, make sure that the designated driver is legally qualified to use the road.
Road traffic regulations are put in place to protect us and if more is done to support this there may be far fewer deaths.
Enough is enough – let’s keep these killer drivers off our roads.