The importance of ensuring commercial and transport driving permits are up-to-date, and that drivers meet all requirements, cannot be underestimated by fleet and vehicle owners and operators. The Road Traffic Management Corporation has reported that close to half a million heavy-duty truck and bus drivers are operating on South African roads with expired or no driving permits.

This has served as a contributing factor, along with serious issues like poor maintenance of vehicles, to the numerous cases of serious or deadly collisions. An example of the consequences of poor maintenance coupled with driver negligence could be seen in the frightening crash on Johannesburg’s Queen Elizabeth Bridge as well as a fatal crash last year which has led to investigations by Joburg’s municipal transport committee into the condition of Metrobus’s ageing fleet and the fitness of its drivers.

“Not only do incidents such as these pose serious risks to public safety and the vehicle drivers themselves, but they also cost businesses millions every year in damages to assets, loss of loads and rejected insurance claims due to negligence or non-compliance,” explained Arnold van der Linde, executive chairman of IntegriSure. “With SA’s increasing economic and trade activity, fleet numbers on the public roads are expected to rise, and driving of these vehicles has become sought-after employment opportunities for many.”

Unfortunately, almost half of the current employed drivers do not have the correct training or certification.

“The Road Safety Act states that it is the vital responsibility of the fleet operators and vehicle owners to ensure that their employee’s professional driver permits are renewed according to regulation, and that drivers meet the required standards.” Van der Linde said that driver employment screening also requires drivers to supply a medical fitness certificate and a clean criminal record. He says that cases which are viewed as negligent or non-compliant include accidents due to overloading, speeding or reckless driving, as well as improperly trained and permitted drivers, among others.

“It is important to always establish whether the driver of a vehicle who is transporting goods on your behalf (as the business or vehicle owner) is in possession of a valid professional drivers permit,” he said. “This is necessary as some insurers may exclude any losses to the cargo, even if you were not aware of the fact that the driver does not have a valid licence. It is also a general rule among most insurance providers that they will not be liable for any accident, injury, loss, damage or liability if the insured is not in the possession of the correct and up-to-date licence, as required by the National Road Traffic Act.

“The recent spate of horrific crashes which have claimed the lives of many has created substantial financial burdens on both public and private parties involved and have prompted authorities to renew their efforts in ensuring these laws and by-laws are properly enforced and those who break the rules are held to account.

“While technology solutions such as telematics already exist to track the behaviour of drivers and vehicles, we welcome the proposition of new legislation or enforcement procedures being put in place to reduce the number of truck and bus related accidents in the future,” he said.

“We also urge all fleet owners to ensure their vehicles are properly maintained.”

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