This subject is like the proverbial bad penny – it keeps turning up, and although it always crops up after another fatal or serious accident, nothing ever gets done to stop this highly dangerous practice!
When accidents happen, the general public ask questions which are difficult to answer and why? – such as –
What Legislation is in place regarding the carrying of children on the back of a bakkie?
When given the answer – none, except that if the children are sitting on the floor the sides and rear door of the body must be 350 mm high and if standing 900 mm high, people are amazed.Regulation 247.
When told that when any person, adults as well as children, are carried in the goods section of a goods vehicle FOR REWARD, it is totally illegal, the response is – how STUPID CAN THE LAW BE! Regulation 250.
- It would appear that South African Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Legislators have somewhat got their priorities mixed up. Motor cars are specifically designed for the conveyance of persons, and cars have all the modern devices for the safety of passengers such as seat belts, air bags, etc. and the maximum number of persons permitted to be conveyed in a motor car is prescribed. BUT -
- There are NO safety requirements to protect persons being carried on the back of a bakkie, except for the height of the sides, and the number of persons which may be carried on the back of a bakkie is not limited.
- For many years appeals have been made to the Authorities to prohibit the carrying of people in the goods section of goods vehicles, even in big trucks, particularly after the frequent serious accidents that have happened during recent years.
- Reasons for not acceding to appeals have been that employees have to be transported on goods vehicles in the course of their work, this is understood and acceptable, but there is no valid reason why the conveyance of persons in the goods section of a goods vehicle should not be prohibited, but the prohibition not to apply in the case of employees being conveyed in the course of their work.
- The root of the problem is that the Road Traffic Legislation does NOT prohibit the conveyance of persons, children or adults, in the section of a goods vehicle intended for carrying goods, unless the conveyance is for reward in which case there is a total prohibition, and unless appropriate action is taken by the Authorities, these fatal accidents will continue and the “Arrive Alive” campaign could possibly suffer the same fate as the RTQS and become a dead duck due to lack of support by the Legislation.
- In discussing the conveyance of persons by road transport, it is pertinent to include mention of the continuing spate of accidents involving buses and mini-buses, particularly when conveying children and to add to the growing concern is the vagueness of the reports as to the root cause of the accidents, the popular and most common causes are “the brakes failed” or “a tyre burst” but there is seldom a public announcement that after a full technical investigation it was established that neither of these were the true cause of a particular accident. This situation has caused numerous problems for many years!
- Road traffic accidents have become a topic of great interest and a topic of discussion amongst the general public and a reaction which is becoming more frequently expressed is...
"We never hear an announcement regarding the outcome of an accident or the result of any investigation as to the actual cause of the accident."
Previous Ministers of Transport, Senior NDoT and Traffic Officials repeatedly make promises that full investigation will be made into the cause of accidents.
In discussing Accident Reports, it is pertinent to mention that a matter which has been reported to the NDoT before, but apparently nothing has happened. In 1932 the then MOTOR VEHICLE Regulations included Regulation 16(3) which prescribed-
"Garage Proprietor to Report Damaged Motor Vehicle"
(3) The person in charge of any garage or repair shop to which is brought any motor vehicle showing any evidence of having been involved in a serious accident shall report the matter to the nearest police station as soon as possible after such vehicle is received and shall state the engine number, the distinctive marks and the names and addresses of the owner and driver of such vehicle."
Virtually the same was included in Provincial Road Traffic Ordinances 1957 and 1966, and also in Section 119 of the first Road Traffic Act, Act No. 29 of 1989.
Act No. 93 of 1996 is still in force today and Section 62 includes the same requirements, but it is not enforced and many Traffic Officials and most of the public affected do not even know the requirement.
- It is not suggested that to re-enforce Section 62 of the Act, will directly reduce accidents, but it will make a significant contribution to assisting investigations into the cause of accidents.
It is internationally conceded that a sure way of reducing road accidents is to address the major causes of accidents and this can only be done by determining the true causes of road accidents, not to find a "scape-goat" on which to attach blame and responsibility for compensation, but to assist in establishing means of preventing repetitions.
- To revert to the original theme of this article, if it is established that people, particularly children are being killed or injured when being carried on the back of bakkies, eliminate this by making it illegal and imposing heavy penalties for contravening the prohibition.
If the National Department of Transport is serious about the “Arrive Alive” campaign, this kind of action is urgently needed.
[ The above information appears in an article provided by Fleetwatch and is an independent observation]