Do you have a pair of red hazard
triangles in the boot of your car? If not, watch out for the Metro
Police because if they find you don't have them, you could be looking at a
You are not alone. It seems thousands of car owners and
drivers have been driving their vehicles in contravention of the National
Road Traffic Regulations for up to three years without even realising
Dozens of motorists caught in a recent blitz in the Hillcrest
area claimed that Metro Police were rummaging through their boots in
search of the triangles, which they didn't know they were supposed to
have. When there were none, they were fined upwards of R250. The
question is, is this just a once-off ploy by over-zealous police or a new
incentive to promote safer driving?
Durban Metro Police spokeswoman
Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo is quite adamant that the random blitzes,
which are being conducted throughout the province, are necessary.
"We have to clamp down on dangerous practices on our roads because of the
high number of accidents. Part of the zero tolerance campaign is to ensure
that every vehicle is abiding by the regulations. Warning signs are what
every motorist should have in their boot. They can save lives and prevent
accidents." Durban ratepayer representative Lilian Develing says she
has fielded dozens of calls from irate motorists who have been caught in
roadblocks in the past few weeks. "Most people weren't aware
that not having these triangles was a traffic violation," said Develing.
"As far as I know it's a regulation that has not been enforced
until now. Most people wouldn't have a clue where to find them in their
car." She believes it would have been fairer for the police to have
first alerted the public to the regulation and warned of possible fines if
the hazard sign ruling wasn't adhered to. "If the aim of the
blitz was to make the roads safer, preying on people's ignorance of the
law and dishing out large fines, surely isn't the way to go."
A spokesman for Midas stores in KZN,
stockists of car accessories, said the run on packs of warning signs had
taken them by surprise. "Many of our stores have run out of stock,"
Howard Dembovsky, national chairman of the Justice Project
South Africa, an NGO formed in 2008 to root out power abuse in law
enforcement through legal means, said that while the regulations had been
in place for five years, it was only this month Metro Police appeared to
have started acting on to this "seemingly little known requirement".
He said that when Gauteng motorists complained of hefty fines for not
carrying warning triangles in their cars, the Justice Project investigated
the issue. "We were informed by the Metro Police Division head
of prosecutions, Basil Nkwashu, this regulation was in force and the fine
issued by his officers would stand if the car had been registered after
July 1, 2006."
Revo Spies of the Ekurhuleni Metro
Police Department, who represents all Metro chiefs, confirmed every
vehicle manufacturer in the country was "aware of and complying with" this
provision as part of SABS requirements.
Dembovsky believes that
just as a secondhand car dealer should not sell someone a pre-owned car
that has no seatbelts, they should be equally liable to provide warning
triangles as is required by law. "We understand that a warning
triangle can significantly assist in preventing a collision in the event
of a breakdown so it stands to reason that it would be good to have and
use one - but then police need to be just as vigilant about other
safety hazards, like motorists still using their cellphones while