WHAT DOES “REASONABLE CONSIDERATION” MEAN IN THE OFFENCE OF INCONSIDERATE DRIVING?
Keywords:road traffic offences, reasonable consideration, fault requirement i
The offence of inconsiderate driving contained in section 64 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 has been described as a “somewhat nebulous provision” (S v Smith 1976 1 SA 756 (T) 757D-E). Yet this provision has been in existence for many years (see, eg, s 48(1)(f) of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 15 of 1938), and has appeared in essentially the same formulation in the Road Traffic Ordinance (of the erstwhile four provinces of the Republic of South Africa) in the form of section 139, and the Road Traffic Act 29 of 1989 in the form of section 121, before coming into force as part of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996, in the form of section 64.
Section 64 provides as follows: “No person shall drive a vehicle on a public road without reasonable consideration for any other person using the road.” The elements of the offence have been identified as (i) driving (ii) a vehicle (iii) on a public road (iv) without reasonable consideration (v) fault (see Hoctor “Road Traffic Offences” in Milton and Cowling South African Criminal Law and Procedure Vol III: Statutory Offences (2005) G3-38; and Cooper Motor Law Vol I (1982) 542). This note does not seek to discuss elements (i), (ii) and (iii), which are general requirements for a range of road traffic offences (see, for discussion of these aspects, Hoctor G3-3 to G3-10
and G3-38; Cooper 45, 53-57 and 60; Snyman Criminal Law 4ed (2002) 389-392; and Burchell Principles of Criminal Law 3ed (2005) 897). However, the requirement that the accused drive without reasonable consideration for any other person using the road is unique to and at the heart of the offence described in section 64, whilst the fault requirement is closely related to this requirement. The latter two requirements will thus be examined in the discussion which follows.
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