Cape Town - Vehicles with a gross vehicle mass or gross combination mass of more than 3500kg will, with immediate effect, be restricted to a speed limit of 100km/h on national roads.
The speed limit change is one of two amendments which minister of transport Dipuo Peters made to the National Road Traffic Regulations a week ago.
Peters also promulgated legislation governing the transportation of school children on goods vehicles, making it, from 12 May 2-17, illegal to transport pupils on bakkies for pay.
The current provision states no person may be transported in the goods compartment of a vehicle for reward.
Justice Project SA said the amendment would have a negative impact on school children in rural areas with poor quality roads which were inaccessible to buses and minibus taxis.
JPSA chairman Howard Dembovsky also weighed in on the amended speed limit for medium-sized and bigger vehicles.
He said the legislation would prove difficult to police: “Just how the speed limit will be enforced remains to be seen since most prosecution which takes place nationwide is done using speed cameras.
“These have an upper limit set on them before they trigger and thus tend to catch only those who exceed 130km/h,” Dembovsky said.
Peters introduced the measures in a bid to improve safety on the roads.
The preliminary fatality statistics for this month show that at least 41 people have died on Western Cape roads since the beginning of November, 27 of whom were pedestrians.
Calls for blanket speed limit
The Road Safety Action Campaign, which had since 2011 been calling for a blanket speed limit of 100km/h for all vehicles, criticised the move.
“The speed limit (of 100km/h) should apply to all vehicles on the road and should have been implemented 20 years ago.
“It has been proven that lower speed limits reduces the chances of fatal crashes,” founder Richard Benson said.
“An average of 60 people die on our roads every day, so if the department was to reduce the speed limit to 100km/h it could cut the death toll by 40 percent.”
The death toll over the festive season from 1 December 2015 to 31 January 2016 was 258 - 61 more than the same period during the previous year. Some have questioned the efficacy of lowering the speed limit to reduce the carnage.
Automobile Association spokesman Layton Beard said on Thursday: “For us it is not really so much about a speed limit, but about driver attitude on the roads.
“It is very important for us to get people to obey the law because it is one of the pillars in terms of dealing with and reducing road fatalities.”
Transport department spokesman Ishmael Mnisi said the annual festive season road safety awareness campaign would be launched next week.