The Automobile Association of South Africa has issued a renewed call for government to implement compulsory daytime running lights (DRL) on both taxis and vehicles over 3500kg.
“The visibility benefits of DRL to road safety are well-proven world-wide, but South Africa has additional problems with truck roadworthiness,” said AASA Head of Public Affairs, Rob Handfield – Jones. “If we could get all heavy vehicles to drive with their lights on, it would be of great assistance to the traffic authorities in identifying unroadworthy vehicles. Also, if a vehicle’s lights are not working, traffic officers could then immediately categorise the vehicle as being higher risk for other roadworthiness defects and make the necessary inspections,” he added.
He said the AA submitted proposed regulatory amendments to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and the Department of Transport in 2006, under which DRL would become compulsory for taxis and vehicles over 3500kg. “We have not had a response to these submissions,” said Handfield – Jones. The AA said it was particularly concerned about the carnage caused by heavy vehicles, citing the recent truck crash in Pretoria which killed several people and gridlocked the N1 for almost an entire day, as well as a truck accident in which 25 people were killed last week.
The AA also pointed to a roadworthiness operation conducted in the Western Cape recently by Fleetwatch magazine. The operation, which served the dual purposes of removing unsafe vehicles from the roads and training traffic officers to more effectively inspect heavy vehicles for roadworthiness offences, randomly selected 25 passing heavy vehicles for testing. Previous such operations have found a high percentage of vehicles to be unfit for further service, but the Western Cape initiative set a new record: every single vehicle was found to be unroadworthy, and all 25 were issued with a Discontinuation of Service notice.
“What more is there to say, when an entire random sample of heavy vehicles is unroadworthy,” asked Handfield – Jones. “The country has to find ways of making it easier for traffic officers to screen for roadworthiness offences in heavy vehicles, and the AA believes that DRL has an important role to play in this regard, quite apart from the visibility benefits to other road users,” he said.
He said heavy vehicle unroadworthiness was a critical threat to all road users. “We call on government to adopt DRL for these vehicles as soon as possible,” he concluded.