Many of things that happen on South Africa’s roads that make me wonder what the official road regulations say. Below is a list of some of the things I notice while driving and what the law says about it.
Using foglights when there is no fog
Regulation 163 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 states: “No person shall operate on a public road, a motor vehicle while any foglamp fitted to such vehicle is lit, except in conditions of poor visibility caused by snow, fog, mist, dust or smoke.” Simply put, it’s illegal to have your foglamps switched on when visibility is clear. Just because it is dark outside does not mean that foglamps should be used. There are normal lights fitted to all cars for the purpose of night driving in clear conditions.
People in the load bay of a bakkie
I’ve touched on this in a previous blog, but there’s no harm in revisiting it. According to regulation 247 of the National Road Traffic Act 93/1996, it’s fine if you want to transport passengers in the goods compartment of a vehicle if “the sides of the vehicle are enclosed to a height of at least 350 mm above the seating surface or 900 mm above the surface upon which the person is standing”. The regulation makes no mention that a roof or canopy is compulsory and it doesn’t stipulate the number of people that are allowed in the load bay either. Legislation is currently being put into motion to make this practice illegal. I hope it happens soon, as this is a dangerous way to transport people.
Jay walking on highways
In terms of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996, Regulation 323, no person is allowed on the freeway on foot. According to Gary Ronald of the AA of South Africa, there are three exceptions to this rule. “The first exception applies if you are within an area reserved for the stopping or parking of vehicles, indicated by an appropriate road traffic sign. The second is if there is a cause beyond a person’s control – for instance, if your car breaks down or you are involved in an accident on the highway. The third and final exception is if you are performing service in the Citizen Force as per the Defence Act. This is allowed between the junction of an off-ramp and the junction of an on-ramp on the left-hand side of the roadway, unless a Road Traffic sign forbids the presence of such person on such freeway or junction”.
Driving in the yellow lane
It annoys me to no end when a driver decides to use the yellow lane because he/she can’t be bothered to wait in the queue like the rest of us. In an article on its website, the AA states that “The answer is simple, and clearly laid out in Regulation 298A of the National Road Traffic Act which refers to yellow lines. Legally, the only time you are allowed to use the emergency lane is if you have a real emergency, such as if your car breaks down, if you are rushing to the hospital, or need to stop immediately in the event of a medical emergency. On a freeway, the emergency lane is reserved for emergencies only like fire-fighting vehicles, emergency response vehicles, rescue vehicles and ambulances, so if you need to use it then the purpose needs to be for the same kind of reasons. Using the emergency lane as a “passing lane” on a freeway is not permitted at all.
The only exception for normal motorists is if you are traveling on a single carriageway road with one lane in each direction. In this case it is permitted to move into the emergency lane to allow faster moving cars to pass you. However, the Act clearly states that if you are moving aside to allow vehicles to pass, you can only do so during daytime hours, which means between sunrise and sunset. By law you are required to make sure that you have at least 150m of visibility ahead before you move over, so under no circumstances can you slip into the yellow line on a blind rise. Likewise, on an open road, if there is heavy rain, mist, or fog that hinders visibility, the emergency lane is out of bounds as you may hit a stationary vehicle, or worse, a pedestrian”.
For more legal information and other driving tips, you can visit the AA’s website.