Earlier today a regular visitor to the Arrive Alive website sent an email with an interesting notification. The above note reveals that drivers will be fined when they run out of fuel…!
We shared this with a few road safety experts and received some interesting responses!!
Not all the driving experts agree or find this a proper application of the Rules of the Road. We would like to share the response received from Rob-Handfield Jones:
Rob Handfield-Jones, MD of driving skills company, driving.co.za, has issued a rebuttal to JMPD spokesperson, Wayne Minaar, who has claimed it is an offence to run out of fuel and that a fine of between R500 and R1000 will be issued in addition to towing and recovery costs. A ‘special team’ is said to have been formed by the JMPD to deal with the issue.
Handfield – Jones said that he had confirmed with the SABS that there is no requirement for a vehicle to be fitted with a fuel gauge. “I do not regard it as sensible to allow one’s vehicle to run out of fuel, but to claim that doing so should expose one to the possibility of a criminal record is absurd,” he commented. He advised any motorist issued with such a ticket to contact an attorney and contest the matter vigorously.
“The law makes no provision for the offence of running out of fuel, and I see no basis for motorists to be fined for not reading an instrument which their vehicle is not required to have. Whether it has it or not is irrelevant – the law does not require it, much less that one take any notice of it, or that it be calibrated to any specific standard.”
Handfield-Jones said that the RTMC’s own figures show that 98.6% of JMPD fines are issued for speed, and that the department served no other purpose than money-making. “I would like to see the traffic statistics that prove that running out of fuel is such a dangerous act as to justify its own enforcement unit. I would suggest that Minaar instead focus on ensuring that all his officers wear seatbelts,” he said. “Thereafter, they might wish to enforce laws that save lives, rather than ones which simply make money,” he concluded.
Howard Dembovsky from Justice Project South Africa believes that many traffic enforcement initiatives are aimed at the wrong enforcement activities:
“What about the scores of heavy trucks that break down on freeways daily – causing massive traffic jams? What about the fact that gridlock ensues on freeways every day at rush times when the JMPD does nothing to get the traffic flowing? What about the hours on end it takes to clear freeways when crashes occur and people are made to consume high volumes of fuel moving at less than a snail’s pace while these scenes take forever to be cleared up. Ah! Therein lies the story…. The JMPD should not contribute to causing traffic jams so they can fine people for running out of petrol…
The Justice Project South Africa also firmly believes that the JMPD is not in a position to make up their own AARTO infringements. There is nothing in the AARTO charge book with respect to running out of fuel and the JMPD are obliged to abide by the AARTO charge book. They may think that they can enact their own laws but they cannot!”
The Road Safety Blog will follow this story and provide more information as it becomes available.