Ban on conveying school children for reward in goods vehicles & new vehicle-specific speed limit

JOHANNESBURG – On Friday 11 November 2016, the Minister of Transport promulgated amendments to the National Road Traffic Regulations which must be noted by motorists – in particular those who operate goods vehicles.

Firstly, Government Gazette 40420 of 11 November 2016 amended Regulation 250, which previously forbade the conveyance of persons for reward in the goods compartment of goods vehicles (bakkies) in its entirety to read as follows:

(1)       No person shall on a public road convey school children in the goods compartment of a motor vehicle for reward.

(2)       No person shall convey any other person in the goods compartment of a motor vehicle for reward: Provided that the provisions of this subregulation shall not apply in respect of a vehicle which complies with the provisions of the NLTA.

Simply put, these amendments mean that transport operators who successfully acquire a public transportation permit in terms of the National Land Transport Act, 2009 (Act 5 of 2009) may convey persons in the goods compartment of bakkies, etc. for reward but under no circumstances is the conveyance of school children in the goods compartment of bakkies, etc. for reward allowed. It is not clear how school children will be accommodated in rural areas with poor quality roads, which are inaccessible to buses, minibuses and the like.

The provisions of Regulation 250 above will come into effect from 11 May 2017.

The second Regulation which was inserted was subregulation (iv) of Regulation 293 which has, with immediate effect, imposed a vehicle class specific speed limit of 100km/h on goods vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) or gross combination mass (GCM) which is greater than 3,500kg but less than 9,000kg as follows:

(iv) (aa) a goods vehicle the gross vehicle mass of which exceeds 3 500 kilograms but does not exceed 9 000 kilograms; or

(bb) a combination of motor vehicles consisting of a goods vehicle, being the drawing vehicle, and one or two trailers of which the sum of the gross vehicle mass of the goods vehicle and of the trailer or trailers exceeds 3 500 kilograms but does not exceed 9 000 kilograms.

Simply put, this means that goods vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) or gross combination mass (GCM) which is greater than 3,500kg may not exceed 100km/h, regardless of whether the prescribed speed limit or general speed limit which may apply is greater than 100km/h – for example on a freeway. It does not mean that such vehicles may drive at up to 100km/h wherever they wish.

The vehicle class specific speed limits applicable to goods vehicles with a GVM or GCM of more than 9,000kg and a breakdown which is towing another vehicle of 80km/h remains in force. The vehicle class specific speed limit for a bus, a minibus or a midibus operating in terms of an operating licence, as well as a rapid transport bus and a rapid transport bus-train of 100km/h also remains in force.

Just how of if these speed limits will be enforced remains to be seen since most of the speed limit prosecution which takes place nationwide is done using speed cameras which have an upper limit set on them before they trigger, and thus tend to catch only those who exceed 130km/h where they are deployed on freeways.

Nonetheless, fleet owners who operate goods vehicles which fall under the criteria above are advised to inform their drivers that this amendment has taken place and that no “grace period” exists since these provisions became effective on 11 November 2016.

Government Gazette 40420 of 11 November 2016 is available here.