AA Legal Eagle: Roadworthiness – Is Your Vehicle Worthy of Being on the Open Roads?

4 October 2012: It is estimated that about 14,500 people die on South African roads every year, and of these, about ten percent of all crashes are as a direct cause of unroadworthy vehicles. When you get a new car, whether brand new or second hand, you make sure the tyres are good and the sound system is out of this world. And through the years, you make sure to keep the important things on your car up to scratch, through regular services. But is that enough to make sure your vehicle is worthy of being on the open roads?

South African legislation states that any vehicle operating on a public road has to be roadworthy, and there are any number of offences in the National Road Traffic Act that address this very issue. However, the one thing that has to be kept in mind is that this is the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle, not necessarily the driver.

“In order to ensure your safety and the safety of the other road users, it is imperative that all vehicles adhere to the strict rules of roadworthiness,” says the Automobile Association (AA). “Many South African drivers cannot afford to buy a brand new car off the showroom floor. This means that when a second hand car is bought it has to be tested to make sure it meets all legal requirements. But are the rules as clear as that?”

The roadworthy test is basic - it involves checking that all major safety features of the vehicle are in working order. These features include the safety belts, brakes, steering, exhaust system, transmission, mirrors and the electrical system. The test also involves checking the vehicle’s documentation and serial numbers – this is to make certain you haven’t unwittingly purchased a stolen car.

“Currently a roadworthy test is only necessary when a vehicle changes owner. However, as unroadworthiness of vehicles is one of the main contributing factors in fatal road crashes, it should be considered throughout a vehicle’s lifetime. Based on this, the AA is supporting a periodic vehicle check for roadworthiness on older vehicles. This would go some way in stemming the number of fatal crashes on our roads,” adds the AASA.

Roadworthy tests can be conducted at your nearest DEKRA testing station, and if the vehicle passes the test the certificate will be issued the same day. To find your nearest DEKRA testing station, please visit

Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126

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