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Motor Insurance
Saturday, April 1, 1989
For whom the bell...

A bunch of locals recently went “toll-busting” at the Mooi River plaza on the N3 in Natal.
After attending a court case where others were being tried for a similar offence, the motorists went off to demonstrate their objection by driving through the toll without paying.
They were soon pulled aside by the police and charged. This raises two questions: What is the jurisdiction of the police on toll roads and what are the insurance procedures in the event of an accident?
Unfortunately, for those who have been charged with an offence on a toll road, the police have full jurisdiction and it would appear our legislators have not left any loopholes in the law relating to toll roads. Insurance claims arising from accidents on toll roads are also treated in the same way as if the accident happened on a ‘‘public road”.
Robbie Pentz, acting deputy director (traffic) at the Johannesburg Traffic Department quotes the definition of a public road from the Road Traffic Ordinance, “Any road, street or thoroughfare or any other place whether thoroughfare or not which is commonly used by the public or to which the public has a right of access.”
According to Mr Pentz, this definition includes toll roads in spite of the fact that they are sometimes referred to as private roads. A spokeswoman from Toll Highway Development Company, which is developing the N17 toll road between Springs and Krugersdorp, offers the following explanation of a toll road:
“In terms of the National Roads Act, at present a toll road has to be a national road or a port ion o) a national road. It has to be described in the Government Gazette as (10 the tariffs and conditions entailed with the use of a toll road.’’
Ron McLennan, chief executive of Tolcon, the group which controls the N1 and N3 roads, confirms that a toll company has no legal powers where public use of the road is concerned. He notes, “The responsibility of law enforcement remains with the police and we have no powers in this area.
From an insurance viewpoint, the motorist involved in an accident on a toll road will follow exactly the same proce ures as if the accident had occurred on another road.”
According to the Automobile Association (AA), “A toll road is a public road operated by private concessionaires.”
It is a misconception that motorists can travel at 200 kilometres an hour without running the risk of being prosecuted. “All road traffic legislation remains the same as on any other road and the same applies to accidents and resulting insurance claims.”
This implies that the term “private road” is not strictly correct - a view shared by Mr Pentz. “The fact that the driver pays to use a toll road does not mean that the road is private property. It remains a public road to which the motorist has access for a fee.”
Mutual & Federal GM, Bunny Attree, confirms that his group does not distinguish between claims arising from accidents on toll roads or on other roads.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:2.4 1st April, 1989
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