Considering that improved safety, operational efficiency and reduced road crashes are just some of the benefits recorded by those who have implemented the Road Transport Management System (RTMS), the Southern African Bus Operators Association (SABOA) would like to appeal to every bus and coach operator in South Africa to become RTMS-certified.

Says Mr Eric Cornelius, Executive Manager at SABOA: “In 2016, South Africa had the 42ndhighest road mortality rate in the world, with 25.1 road deaths per 100 000 population, which suggests that we all need to take action in the interests of improving road safety. And considering that almost 80% of our country’s population is dependent on public transport to get to school, work or to travel, it is in the interest of every member of the public that our bus and coach operators officially align themselves with the RTMS requirements.”

The RTMS initiative, which was introduced in 2006, is driven by the heavy vehicle industry itself. It encourages road transporters, consignors and consignees to implement a set of standards in broad compliance with the Road Traffic Regulations.

Although law enforcement plays a role in terms of reducing accidents, it does not promote risk mitigation, which is a crucial factor in road safety. While RTMS focuses on reducing traffic violations, fostering skills development in the transport sector and promoting driver wellness, it also takes into account factors like vehicle maintenance, load optimisation and road damage. It is a holistic standard that has to date shown significant benefits for companies that have adopted it, including a reduction in overloading and speeding incidents, up to 66% reduction in crashes and greater fuel-efficiency, according to the 2014 paper ‘Perceptions of the Road Transport Management System (RTMS): Promoting Voluntary Certification’.[1]

Other benefits cited include improved driver wellness (and reduced turnover of drivers due to HIV), less absenteeism and higher employee motivation, fewer vehicle breakdowns and improved fleet utilisation. Of the companies interviewed by the researchers, 30% identified some safety benefits to RTMS, 15% identified significant benefits and 50% indicated crucial benefits (including cost-reduction benefits). Some 40% of these companies reported greater profitability (with 80% as yet uncertain).

There are currently about 36 000 RTMS-certified vehicles and trailers on the roads.

Cornelius believes that bus and coach operators are keen to do their part to reduce road fatalities – but the main reason for the slow uptake of adoption is a lack of awareness, together with a poor understanding of the requirements for certification, particularly among smaller companies. In addition, companies must work towards certification for anything from six months to over a year, which may be a deterrent. It is worth nothing, however, that many clients like a company to have RTMS certification, with a small number insisting upon it, which suggests that it is coming to be recognised as industry best practice.

Companies that wish to become RTMS-certified need to purchase the RTMS standard SANS1395:1 from the SABS. Cost is determined by the size of the fleet and where it is located, but is currently R60 per vehicle per year. Once the company has applied for certification, it needs to prepare for an audit. RTMS certification is valid for three years, subject to an annual surveillance audit (critical information does need to be uploaded on the RTMS website during the year to ensure a company is still compliant). Further information is available at

Of the certified companies surveyed, 70% said that RTMS is a small cost considering the benefit, with 60% saying their businesses run better, and 75% saying their clients view them as more responsible. “There are a number of tangible benefits of voluntary accreditation, chief among these being the fact that companies are perceived as being good corporate citizens, demonstrating good corporate governance and global best practice. This can only enhance their competitiveness as well as their sustainability,” says Mr Cornelius.

Accreditation also aligns companies with the Department of Transport’s National Road Safety Strategy 2016-30, which is itself aligned with the United Nations Decade of Action pillars. The UN’s objective is to reduce road fatalities and injuries by 50% (from the 2010 base) by 2030.

For any further assistance or more information, bus and coach operators are welcome to contact SABOA on +27 11 511 7641 or email

[1]Kamdar, A., Kienhöfer, F., Emwanu, B., Heyns, G., Nordengen, G. 2014. ‘Perceptions of the Road Transport Management System (RTMS): Promoting Voluntary Certification’. This paper was presented at the 2017 Southern African Transport Conference and Exhibition (SATC), held at the CSIR in Pretoria from 10-13 July 2017.