Unqualified truck drivers are a big concern

To drive a certain type of vehicle, the drivers are required to have a professional driving permit in addition to their driver's licence. Following concerns from William of Paarl, who has been driving heavy vehicles for over 30 years, the qualifications and validation of truck drivers is put under the spotlight.

William is concerned with transport companies hiring people who are not qualified to drive heavy vehicles, compromising the safety of other road users.

According to Ishmael Mnisi, Spokesperson for the Minister of Transport, the system that’s been used to issue driver's licences is internationally bench-marked.

The starting point is to go back to the system we used to get our driver's licences and issues of driver's licences and issues of vehicle fitness itself. I think it is contained in our legislation that deals with the issuing and the revoking of such licences that are given to our drivers. The driving testing centres are the important aspect of what we're talking about, how we conduct them and we must mention upfront the system we use is internationally benchmarked in terms of how we issue our licences and how we test our drivers.

Mnisi continued to say that the Minister of Transport proposed that drivers of heavy vehicles should be tested continuously. He says the number of accidents clearly shows that we have incompetent drivers on our roads, ignoring traffic rules. The retesting will include cancellation of licences obtained in an unlawful manner.

According to Mnisi, they are currently working on the visibility of traffic officers on national roads to have them working like police officers and not only work certain hours as they currently do. They are also training about a thousand traffic officers to enhance the capacity of officers they currently have.

He says they also have plans use technology on South Africa’s roads like other countries. They are waiting for parliamentary approval of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO). The Act will allow penalising of regular bad drivers with a series of demerit points on their licences which will, after a certain number of points, result in the licence being revoked.

A professional driving permit (PrDP) is required if you drive the following vehicles:

  • Goods vehicles weighing over 3500 kg
  • Breakdown vehicles
  • Buses
  • Minibuses weighing more than 3500 kg designed to carry 12 or more people, including the driver
  • Vehicles used to transport people for payment
  • Goods vehicles carrying dangerous goods, which weighs more than 3500 kg
  • Road tank vehicles for petroleum-based flammable liquids
  • Motor vehicles conveying 12 or more people including the driver
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