Understanding South Africa’s automotive safety standards

Posted by Chelsy Pinto on 18 Sep 2021

Suzuki IgnisThe difference between SA’s vehicle safety standards, international safety standards and the standards suggested by many vehicle testing organisations can cause confusion over what, precisely, is required on our roads.

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 18 seconds.

While there is plenty of information on ‘best practice’ when it comes to automotive safety standards, it doesn’t mean these are automatically made a requirement by all countries around the world. South Africa, especially, has somewhat lenient safety requirements in comparison to most European countries.

While there is plenty of information on ‘best practices’ when it comes to automotive safety standards, it doesn’t mean these are automatically made a requirement by all countries around the world. South Africa, especially, has somewhat lenient safety requirements in comparison to most European countries.

It is a nightmare to find out exactly what the minimum safety standards are in South Africa as there is no government website or page that lists the basic requirements. The easiest way to get an indication is to see what the requirements are to get a vehicle certified as Roadworthy. In this case, the AA sums it up as follows:

A guide to the main items that are checked during a roadworthy test-updated_v2

Based on our local ‘Roadworthy’ requirements, there is very little regard for basic safety features such as crumple zones or ABS. It is, therefore, up to buyers to ensure they pay attention to safety features when purchasing a new/ used vehicle.

In one of our recent blog posts, we outlined the basic safety features as:

  • Well-engineered crumple zones
  • ABS brakes
  • Seatbelts
  • Driver’s airbag

You can be driving the most expensive car in the world, but without a seatbelt, none of the advanced safety systems can function effectively. So, as long as you have these basics in your car, you essentially have a safe vehicle.

If you have children still using car seats, you can add Isofix anchor points to the above list.

Best advice

When shopping for a vehicle, do your research and keep safety at the top of the list. Just because SA’s vehicle safety standards are minimal, doesn’t mean you should stick to the basics. 

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