Should driver behaviour tracking be used as evidence in marital disputes?

Quite often the Arrive Alive website receives some rather interesting requests for assistance. Last week the Arrive Alive website received a phone call from a frustrated vehicle owner who requested our assistance in strong action against someone who transports his children and who, according to the vehicle tracking data, appears to have exceeded the speed limit and driven dangerously. Only during the conversation it became apparent that this person is his wife!

Having gained his permission I would like to share the email:

Email received:

As per our conversation of earlier please find the tracking report attached.

I must point out a few things.

1. The car is registered in my name and I make the payments.
2. I also make the payments for the insurance and tracking and the insurance is in my name. ( i.e. the tracking and my possession of it is legal)
3. I am the banks legal caretaker in respect of protecting their/my asset.
4. I am also The father of the Children that are transported in this car to and from school and have a moral and legal responsibility to protect them at all costs.
5. My wife is full aware of the tacker in the car yet continues to wilfully place her life, my children life and other road users life in danger.

The report is very detailed and I am very sure if you go through the report you will find many examples of speeding in lower rated areas (60/80/100) but for the purposes of simplicity I am focusing on the speed violations of over 130km an hour which there are many examples of.

I am not going to highlight all of them but one particular one I would like to bring to your attention is the following.

Sunday the 26th February 2012. Travelling on the N17 to take my children to a birthday party in Edenvale (travelling from Boksburg) my wife’s decides to travel 132 and 141 km/h with my kids in the car.

Sorry but this is unacceptable. How must I idly sit by and watch my wife put my children’s life in danger? What kind of a father would I be?

I am not sure how to do this legally but I need to protect my children IMMEDIATELY. Please help.

I need 1 or more of the following to happen immediately.

1. She be charged with repeated reckless and negligent driving.
2. She be charged with wilfully and repeatedly endangering the lives of my children.
3. She immediately legally be prevented from transporting my children ANYWHERE.
4. Her license possibly suspended/revoked.

Please advise what is the next steps urgently please. This cannot continue for a day longer.

Many thanks. I look forward to your response

Response and feedback from the Experts

I decided to share the email with the experts on road traffic legislation and traffic enforcement   – Alta Swanepoel and Howard Dembovsky, and would like to share their responses:

Road Traffic Legislation Expert Alta Swanepoel:

The speeds in question are not sufficiently high to warrant a charge of reckless driving. You only really succeed with those types of charges at speeds of higher than 160 km/h if you have no other evidence like an accident or dangerous driving, etc.

The tracker’s info may also not be used for a speeding charge as it does not conform to the speed prosecution guidelines.

A person’s driving licence is also normally only suspended once they exceed the speed limit by 30 km/h in town and 40 km/h out of town and these speeds were not close to that.

I assume the two examples he quoted happened on the freeway with a speed limit of 120 km/h.

You only get prosecuted from 131 km/h so I definitely do not see reckless driving charges.

One will have to investigate possible traffic fines, if she made accidents in the past, etc. if he wants to argue she is not suitable to hold a licence and would then need to request the MEC to have her retested.

I do not see sufficient evidence from what he said to substantiate further action.

Regards

Alta

Alta Swanepoel and Associates

Traffic Enforcement Specialist Howard Dembovsky

I can only fully endorse what Alta has said with respect to what the traffic legal matters surrounding this issue and it would appear that the gentleman is trying to use the criminal justice system as well as the driver licensing system to address his marital problems.  He will not succeed with this as his interpretation of the law is sorely skewed by what appears to be a deep resentment of his wife. I further add that it would appear that he wants someone else to fight his battles/address his problems instead of pursuing a number of obvious remedies open to him.  Here are just a few of those remedies:

  1. If he feels so strongly about how his wife is driving HIS car, registered in HIS name, then all he need do is remove the privilege of driving that vehicle from his wife.
    1. This involves the simple act of taking the keys away.
    2. He could sell the car if he wishes to make it final.
    3. He will have to make arrangements to ferry his children around – something that he could easily do himself right now without even withdrawing the use of the use of the vehicle from his wife or trying to get her prosecuted.
    4. I would suggest that this matter looks more like one that need be dealt with by a marriage counsellor and that this should be done urgently. That is if he is still married to her, which he has not stated.
    5. If he is still married to her and a marriage counsellor doesn’t work, then there are always divorce attorneys and suing for custody based on his feelings of recklessness – which a court will take into consideration and then decide on.

The most important thing here is that people must refrain from abusing the criminal justice system to get spiteful against others and/or to do their dirty work for them. Civil law provides remedies for this kind of situation and if he wants things done “IMMEDIATELY” then he will have to instruct an attorney or advocate to bring an urgent application before the court.

Best Regards,

Howard Dembovsky

National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

Conclusion

It should be clear from the above that the data collected from vehicle telematics devices should not be used to perform traffic enforcement duties – and definitely not to settle marital disputes. This might however be a weapon in the arsenal of the divorce attorney when it comes to a dispute with regards to custody of children etc. For this we will seek advice and refer to well-known divorce attorney Bertus Preller!

Also view:

Insurance Telematics and Road Safety

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Can Insurance Telematics fill the missing link for effective traffic enforcement?

Will Insurance Telematics settle the eternal debate of who is the best driver?

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