2020 Nissan NP200 (Nissan SA)

CRA Motoring News – South Africa

Who has the right of way? MasterDrive gives pointers on how to stay on the right side of the road and the right side of the law.

The smart South African motorist, who has to contend with everything from stray pedestrians and animals to overly exuberant taxi drivers, are usually well-versed with defensive driving techniques.

We all know we should give way to emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, police cars and ambulances — but that is certainly not the case for every set of flashing lights which suddenly appear up close, and far too personal, in your rear-view mirror.


Tow trucks — which, when moving, are notoriously hell-bent on reaching accident scenes — are one example of flashing lights you are not obliged to give way to.

But what about private security company vehicles?


MasterDrive — which not only specialises in various categories of driver training, but which has also lately, among other initiatives, invested in training emergency medical drivers for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital — said it’s now more important than ever to know exactly who has right of way.  

 “While there was a considerable drop in crime levels with the start of Level 5 lockdown, since Level 4 crime has steadily increased. In the first week of Level 4, vehicle theft more than doubled,” noted MasterDrive.

“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) recently told Parliament that poverty-related crimes, such as theft, robbery and housebreaking, can be expected to rise,” continued the driving specialist.


MasterDrive said while drivers should expect a greater police presence to handle this, South Africans are also reliant on another sector to provide assistance in the form of private security companies.

MasterDrive managing director Eugene Herbert pointed out that: “Drivers may at times be left wondering how to share the roads with private security company drivers, especially if they are driving recklessly. According to the law, only emergency services can drive with red or blue lights and not follow road rules when the circumstances necessitate it.”

“If a private security company driver breaks a law, places someone in danger or causes a crash, they can be held liable for it in the same way that any other driver would,” continued Herbert.


He revealed that while these companies do not enjoy the same liberties that emergency services do, many private security companies, however, do work closely with the police in providing assistance to people in need and catching criminals.

What should one do when there is a private security car behind them clearly responding to an emergency?

“You could refuse to move out of the way as they do not have any special privileges,” explained Herbert, adding that MasterDrive however recommends that your decision on how to react should be based on a number of factors.


“The first is that they are likely responding to an emergency and someone may desperately be in need of assistance.

“Refusing to move out of the way adds crucial minutes onto their response time and could even be the difference between life and death. In this scenario, while you’re not obligated to do so, giving them space rather than hindering their response can be the right thing to do.”

Herbert said the second was that not all drivers from private security providers may have been trained.

“Consequently, some drivers are not trained to drive through traffic in an emergency. You can refuse to move out of the way, but in that case, you are endangering yourself,” he noted.

“Rather make way for the vehicle and contact the security company afterwards to inform them of their driver’s behaviour. Ultimately, deciding how to interact with private security drivers should be guided by prioritising safety for all,” advised Herbert.


He said fleet managers within private security companies need to ensure that their drivers are behaving safely and responsibly on the road as well.

“Driving around traffic at higher speeds and under the pressure that drivers will be facing in the coming months, requires an advanced skill set. Ensuring drivers can handle the pressure without endangering themselves or anyone else is top priority,” concluded Herbert.

Article Credit To The South African.