Law aims to make taxis slower

2014-11-13 00:00

A NEW transport regulation will force parents to buckle up their infant children in child car seats and limit taxi drivers to 100 km/h on the open road.

This is among several other changes found in a recent government gazette amending the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) that include the compulsory fitting of “speed governers” into all new taxis, buses and trucks from December 2016 as a requisite to operate.

The child seat regulation will likely come into force as early as April next year — and Caro Smit, head of the Pietermaritzburg-based non-profit organisation South Africans Against Drink Driving (SAADD) that lobbied for the changes for over six years, believes the amendments were a “coup” for transport pressure groups.

“We used every platform we could to pressure the state to make sure infants had to be placed in child car seats. We understand drink driving is a complex matter, but studies show we can halve the amount of road deaths by simply making sure seatbelts are worn,” she said.

Smit said while they had extensive consultation with the national Department of Transport, their overtures to talk to the provincial department were ignored.

“I challenge the KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC [Willies] Mchunu to take a selfie of himself sitting in his car wearing his seatbelt. We need leaders to take the lead on this.”

The amendments have been in the pipeline since 2012 and were gazetted on October 31. The gazette, signed by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, states an “infant is a person below the age of three years” and the driver of a private vehicle “shall ensure that an infant travelling” is seated on an “appropriate child restraint”.

Taxis, trucks and buses would have to be fitted with a speed governor limiting their speed to 80 km/h for trucks and 100 km/h for buses and taxis.

Democratic Alliance transport spokesperson Manny de Freitas said while the Act was “great”, he had “concerns” over its enforcement.

“They [traffic police] can hardly enforce what is in the legislation at the moment.”

Online trucking magazine publisher Patrick O’Leary said: “This legislation is 100% needed. In the trucking industry, it makes financial sense to travel at only 80 km/h as it reduces operational costs.”

South African Bus Owners Association executive manager Eric Cornelius said it could be 20 years until all buses, taxis and trucks on South African roads were fitted with speed governers. “The new regulation only requires speed control technology on all new vehicles purchased from 2016,” he said.

“This will be phased in over a period of time.”

Transport Department spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said the speed governer “allows the vehicle to slow down when it exceeds a speed limit”.

Attempts to contact both Mchunu and his departmental spokesperson were unsuccessful.

• jonathan.erasmus@ witness.co.za

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