TRANSPORTATION OF PEOPLE ON GOODS VEHICLES
This subject is like the proverbial bad penny – it keeps turning up, and although it always crops up after another fatal or serious accident, nothing ever gets done to stop this highly dangerous practice!
What Legislation is in place regarding the carrying of persons on the back of a bakkie?
When given the answer – none, except that if the persons are sitting on the floor the sides and rear door of the body must be 350 mm high and if standing 900 mm high, people are amazed. National Road Traffic Act, Regulation 247.
When told that when any person, adults as well as children, are carried in the goods section of a goods vehicle for reward, it is totally illegal, the response is – how conflicting can the law be! National Road Traffic Act, Regulation 250.
The Construction Regulations which was promulgated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993 on 18 July 2003 stipulates that employers must ensure that vehicles that are used to transport employees must have seats firmly secured and adequate for the number of employees to be carried. Although in conflict with the National Road Traffic Act this is definitely a step in the right direction.
It would appear that South African Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Legislators have somewhat got their priorities mixed up. Motor cars are specifically designed for the conveyance of persons, and cars have all the modern devices for the safety of passengers such as seat belts, air bags, etc. and the maximum number of persons permitted to be conveyed in a motor car is prescribed. BUT - There are NO safety requirements to protect persons being carried on the back of a bakkie, except for the height of the sides, and the number of persons which may be carried on the back of a bakkie is not limited.
For many years appeals have been made to the Authorities to prohibit the carrying of people in the goods section of goods vehicles, even in big trucks, particularly after the frequent serious accidents that have happened during recent years.
Reasons for not acceding to appeals have been that employees have to be transported on goods vehicles in the course of their work, this is understood and acceptable, but there is no valid reason why the conveyance of persons in the goods section of a goods vehicle should not be prohibited, but the prohibition not to apply in the case of employees being conveyed in the course of their work.
The root of the problem is that the Road Traffic Legislation does NOT prohibit the conveyance of persons, children or adults, in the section of a goods vehicle intended for carrying goods,unless the conveyance is for reward in which case there is a total prohibition, and unless appropriate action is taken by the Authorities, these fatal accidents will continue.