The National Road Traffic Act and Regulations were amended at the end of November 2010 and some of the amendments already have had – and in future will have – a major impact on the transport industry, traffic departments and the public in general. Given this, FleetWatch legislation correspondent, Alta Swanepoel, outlines for our readers some of the changes and impacts they can expect. Operators please take note.
The National Road Traffic Act, 1996 was amended by the implementation of an old amendment act that has been around since 1999 as well as an amendment act that was accepted by Parliament in 2008. It mainly transfers power on road traffic matters from the MECs for Transport and the Department of Transport to the CEO of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
Due to an integrated legal process, some of these provisions actually came into force in August 2000. A transitional provision was included in the Act to transfer the powers back to the MECs and the Department until such time as the RTMC is ready to take over the functions or new legislation amendments are promulgated.
The two proclamations that implemented the 1999 and the 2008 Amendment Acts are:
- The National Road Traffic Amendment Act 1999 (Act No. 21 of 1999) , Proclamations 48 of 2000 published in Gazette 21425 of 31 July 2000 and Proclamation 61 of 2010 published in Gazette 33742 of 10 November 2010.
- The National Road Traffic Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 64 of 2008) , Proclamation 60 of 2010 published in Gazette 33742 of 10 November 2010.
The implementation of the two amendment acts has various implications of which a few are listed for your information. Readers should please consult the entire Acts for detailed amendments.
Amendment Act, 21 of 1999
- The sections relating to the old Road Traffic Act, 1989 (Act No. 29 of 1989) will no longer be in force and all the sections of the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996) will apply. Some of the regulations supporting these provisions were not in place at the time of writing this article.
- New appointments for traffic officers are be done in terms of section 3A of the NRTA.
- The provision that determines the allocation of fines in the Act is repealed. The allocation of fines is now managed by the AARTO Act. The principle will in future be that the authority that does the law enforcement will be entitled to the fines and penalties.
Amendment Act 64 of 2008
The definition of haulage tractor is implemented. This has an impact on the sugar and timber industries and other transport disciplines where the tractors are used to deliver the products as well as hauling it off-road. The 31previous classes of vehicles in this vehicle type were truck-tractors and tractors, and are now split into three types, namely, truck-tractors, haulage tractors (tractors with a GCM exceeding 24 000 kg) and tractors (tractors with a GCM of up to 24 000 kg). Different rules will apply to haulage tractors than to tractors. There are no definitions supporting haulage tractors at this stage but the intention is that the drivers of haulage tractors will need code EC licences and PRDP’s and the vehicles will go for annual roadworthy testing and will need operator cards.
- Reserve traffic officers and reserve traffic wardens are defined. Such an officer must still be qualified and no casual personnel may be used to fulfill such functions.
Inspectorate of driving licence testing centres and testing stations , training procedures and qualifications of inspectors to be prescribed.
- Offences were created for actions relating to “cheating’ on learner and driving licence testing.
- Offences added to section 35 on automatic suspension of driving licences , conviction on a speeding offence of driving faster than 30 km/h over the speed limit in an urban area and 40 km/h over the speed limit outside an urban area will result in the automatic suspension of a person’s driving licence. The reasons for the suspension not to be enforced by a Magistrate, must be related to the offence, not the offender.
- Roadworthy certificates issued in our neighbouring states are only accepted for vehicles registered in that state.
- Authorisation granted to exceed the speed limit and transgress road traffic signs in the execution of duties was added for drivers of medical and fire-fighting response vehicle and authorised persons. As authorised persons are not defined and the procedure to become such a person is not in the Act, this may become a section that can be abused. Reference to civil protection vehicle drivers are also removed from section 58 and 60 relating to such authority and therefore no green light vehicles may be allowed to exceed the speed limit and transgress road signs in future.
- Accident reports will have to be amended in terms of the amendments to section 61 of the Act as all the provisions now require prescribed procedures that need to be published in regulations.
Section 74A and B addresses a matter that many transporters have been asking for for years: Prosecuting the companies that overload their vehicles. Unfortunately, section 74A and B cannot function without some additional amendments to the regulations. The Minister must first define who are considered to be consignors, stipulate their duties and offences they can commit before the sections will be able to be used in court cases. Consignees who accept goods from overloaded vehicles will also be able to be charged.
- The power of the Minister is 2011 extended to allow for various additional matters to be controlled by regulation: habitual overloaders, rules for loading of vehicles, measures to limit speed, etc. This must be done by the promulgation of additional regulations that have not been published for comment yet.
- The method of incorporating South African National Standards into the Road Traffic legislation is amended and amended specifications will have to be re-incorporated in the legislation. This will be challenging as the homologation of motor vehicles is done by way of SANS specifications and the latest version will be used to determine the legality of a vehicle whereas a previous version may be used to determine if a vehicle is roadworthy, unless the SANS specifications and the Road Traffic Regulations are in perfect harmony.
Section 81 dealing with abnormal vehicles has been amended and the approval for the design of a vehicle that does not comply with the legislation when it is designed must be obtained from the Minister of Transport and not the MECs of the Provinces. The operationalpermits will still be issued by the Provinces. The effect of this amendement is that a new vehicle that is designed and that does not comply must first be approved by the National Department of Transport to allow the vehicle to be homologated by the National Regulator of Compulsory Standards. If the vehicle is approved and an operator wants to use it on a public road, a permit would need to be obtained from the provinces that are responsible for the roads on which the vehicle is going to travel.
- The power to determine fees for the purposes of this legislation is amended and the MECs will only determine the fees for registration and licensing of vehicles. All other fees are determined by the Minister of Transport. Currently no fees have been published for general matters – e.g. driving licences, PRDP’s, etc.
National Road Traffic Regulations amended
The National Road Traffic Regulations were also amended in November 2010. The amendment is in Government Gazette 33796, Notice number 1113 published on 25 November 2010. It is called the Seventeenth Amendment and came into force on publication. A few of the major amendments are listed for your information:
- New motor vehicles registered after 1 August 2010 must have number plates that are fitted with pop rivets or screws. If it cannot be fitted to the vehicle, it must be fitted to a bracket that complies with SANS 973. This date was moved around a few times but is now set at 1 August 2010.
Foreign licences are accepted if the person got the licence while he was not in South Africa for a period longer than three months. Foreign licences are valid in South Africa until it expires in the country of issue but not for longer than five years after the person got permanent residence in South Africa.
- Directional Stability Control Devices for mini and midibuses that operate for reward are introduced through a certification process that forms part of the roadworthy test. It applies to all mini and midibuses and not only newly manufactured vehicles. A certificate needs to be obtained to present to the testing station declaring that a device is fitted to the vehicle.
- Left-hand drive steered vehicles: The legality of these vehicles is clarified and the owner of such a vehicle may, if the vehicle was licensed in his name before 23 July 2004, sell the vehicle and the new owner may licence it into his name. Effectively, it means all left-hand drive vehicles licensed in South Africa prior to 23 July 2004 are legal.
- An amendment to regulation 332 was published and lists the evidential breath testers that may be used to collect evidential breath samples and the certificate issued by the manufacturer or supplier may be used as evidence in cases by the mere production thereof. The evidence required to prove breath alcohol cases is streamlined.
- Management representatives of testing stations are limited to testing 150 motor vehicles per month.
A roadworthiness test is now only valid for 21 days instead of the six months it used to be before. The effect of this amendment is basically that any roadworthy test done before the 21 day period will not be considered by the registering authority and vehicles that have been tested will have to be retested.
- The rule on disabled parking has been corrected and a person driving a disabled person may also park in such parking. The previous amendment limited the parking bays to vehicles driven by a disabled person.
The amendments that have been promulgated require additional amendments to be made before all the provisions can be functional. It is assumed that the Minister will shortly publish these amendments for comment. An amendment to the Act
requires that all future amendments to regulations must be submitted to Parliament and must be published for comment. This will hopefully eliminate the surprises.