Is your vehicle roadworthy?

Responsible drivers ensure that they’re not distracted while driving, they pay attention to the rules of the road and, importantly, they make sure their vehicle is roadworthy at all times. However, many drivers knowingly put their lives at risk by getting behind the wheel of a vehicle even when they know there is a problem with the car.

“School holidays are a few weeks away and our roads are going to be getting busier. Having unroadworthy vehicles on our roads at this time is a recipe for disaster,” says Pieter Niemand, Director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

He points out that it is a legal requirement in South Africa that all cars must be in a roadworthy condition. “Taxis and busses must undergo a roadworthy test every year and a roadworthy certificate must be presented before a new car can be registered.”

The fact that roadworthy certificates are only presented for cars on change of ownership means that for many drivers, roadworthiness might not be top of mind. “Periodic roadworthy testing is not compulsory in South Africa. However, driving a car that is not roadworthy is not only risky on the roads, it’s also risky when it comes to your finances. Most car insurance claims will not be paid out if it is found that the vehicle involved in the accident was not in a roadworthy condition,” advises Niemand.

“In fact, keeping your car roadworthy will save you money in the long-term because your car will operate more efficiently and you could possibly avoid costly repairs that are a result of negligence.”

The onus is on the motorist to ensure their vehicle is safe to drive so it’s important to regularly service and maintain the vehicle and request a full safety inspection from qualified mechanics and technicians. Regular maintenance will ensure that the shock absorbers are in good condition, that the braking system is working properly and that all the vehicle’s safety technologies, such as ABS and airbags, are in working order.

However, there are some checks motorists can and should do regularly, even without the assistance of a mechanic. “Ensure that there are no cracked mirrors or windscreens and that all lights are working properly. Check the number plate lights, indicators, stop and tail lights, etc.” continues Niemand. “Are the windscreen wipers in good working order? Can all windows and doors open easily? Test the safety belts and inspect your wheels. Tread must be at least 1mm deep around the entire tyre and tyres must have adequate air pressure. Regularly check your vehicle’s fluids to ensure there are no leaks… and while we don’t want you to abuse your hooter, you have to make sure it’s in good working order!”

“As South Africans, it’s time that we all pull together to help improve our daily lives. Keeping your car roadworthy is an important aspect of responsible citizenship, with benefits for the individual and other road users. It will also go a long way to reducing our devastatingly high road death numbers over the festive season,” concludes Niemand.