The Automobile Association (AA) is advising people not to repeat rumours about new traffic laws without having the facts at hand.
“We are getting several calls a day from concerned motorists over alleged changes to the speed limits, and operating hours laws,” the AA said. “It’s evident in all these cases that motorists have misunderstood the difference between ‘law’ and ‘proposal’.”
The AA explained that the Minister of Transport is entitled to make new regulations to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), or change or repeal old ones. This process starts with the Department of Transport (DoT) issuing a proposed amendment for comment, which is published in the Government Gazette. A comment period follows during which the public can give its input on the proposal.
“Once the comment period closes, the Department of Transport will then consider the comments received from the public and then decide how to proceed,” the AA explained.
“The law-making process is quite flexible, and just because something is proposed in the Government Gazette doesn’t mean it will necessarily become law.”
The AA said that the latest Facebook frenzy was over speed limits and heavy vehicle operating hours.
“In 2015, a proposal was published to reduce speed limits substantially,” the AA said.
“The same document proposed banning heavy vehicles from the roads between certain hours. However, lots of fairly draconian actions are proposed by the DoT, but few become law; they are either rejected outright or watered down in committee,” the Association noted.
Status quo remains unchanged
“In the case of the speed and operating hours provisions, neither has been enacted as law and the status quo remains unchanged. In our opinion, both proposals are without merit, and we made submissions to the Department to that effect,” it added.
“It would be more productive for people to make submissions to the DoT during the comment period, giving their views on a proposal, than for them to whip up a frenzy on social media when it’s too late,” the AA added.
“Every proposal is published with contact details, including an email address, so citizens can make their voices heard. We advise people to make use of these opportunities so they can safeguard their rights by opposing some of the questionable regulatory proposals published by the Department,” the Association concluded.