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Will you have to do a spot driving test?

By Staff Writer
Last week Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced that discussions are currently under to introduce a system whereby traffic officers will be able to stop motorists at random and retest their driving skills.
 
In a report, Makhosini Msibi, Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) CEO advocate, is reported to have said that traffic officers are allowed to carry out these re-testings according to the National Road Traffic Act.
 
(Scroll to the end of the article to view the relevant sections of the National Road Traffic Act.)
 
Opposition to the proposition
 
In a press release, DA Shadow Minister of Transport Manny de Freitas noted that the announcement by the Transport Minister “is a weak attempt to shift the focus away from her department’s consistent failure to ensure competency on our roads at the initial testing stage.”
 
Justice Project South Africa has also voiced its horror at the government wanting to “introduce a system where metro police officers can randomly stop motorists and retest their driving.”
 
De Freitas explained that Sections 3(F) and 3(I) of the National Road Traffic Act (see below), stipulate “the powers and duties of traffic officers and inspectors of licences.”
 
He added that while the National Road Traffic Act allows traffic officers to inspection documents and the vehicles, as well as to direct the driver of the vehicle to prove the road worthiness of the vehicle or even suggest that the driver in question be retested, “the Act does not at any point empower the officer in question to retest a driver’s competency to operate said vehicle.”
 
Justice Project South Africa concur, stating: “Contrary to the claim made by RTMC’s CEO Advocate Makhosini Msibi, the National Road Traffic Act does not empower any traffic officer to retest any person at random at the roadside, especially if they are not a qualified driving licence examiner.
 
“The most obvious solution to the problem of so-called “defective” driving licenses is to require mandatory re-testing of drivers on renewal of their driving licenses every 5 years, but in order for this to be feasible, corruption must be eradicated.”
 
One of the reasons that this retesting model has been suggested is to assist in combating the dangers on the roads and reducing road deaths.
 
However, de Freitas believes: “Until the RTMC adheres to one of its core functions - collecting, collating and releasing accurate road statistics which can be used to develop strategies to reduce road deaths - the number of deaths on our roads will not be decisively addressed.”
 
The National Road Traffic Act
 
Section 50 of the National Road Traffic Act of 1996 states: “The chief executive officer may, on account of the record of a driver of a motor vehicle in respect of which an operator is registered, by written notice… direct that the driver concerned be retested in terms of section 25.”
 
Section 25 of the National Road Traffic Act explains the procedures around the suspension and cancellation of drivers’ licences.
 
Section 3(F) says: “In addition to the powers and duties conferred upon him or her or under this Act, an inspector of licences may, subject to the provisions of this Act or arty other law - by notice in writing as prescribed, direct the owner, operator, driver or person in charge of arty vehicle, wherever found, which in his or her opinion does not comply with the requirements for roadworthiness certification provided for in this Act or in any other law, to produce such vehicle for inspection, examination or testing to an appropriately graded testing station for such class of vehicle at a time and place specified in such notice”.
 
Furthermore, Section 3(I) states that “In addition to the powers and duties conferred upon him or her or under this Act, a traffic officer may, subject to the provisions of this Act or any other law - inspect and test or cause to be inspected and tested by a person whom he or she considers competent to do so, any part and the functioning of any vehicle, and the equipment thereof, with a view to ascertaining whether the vehicle concerned or the functioning thereof and the equipment comply with the provisions of this Act”.
 
*The Department of Transport was contact for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.

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