If you live in Johannesburg or Tshwane, you’ll have to change your driving behaviour soon. But Natal residents can breathe a sigh of relief, for now, as the legislation makes its way to KwaZulu-Natal, reports South Coast Herald.
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill was recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
This legislation, which has been designed to change driving behaviour through the implementation of a demerit system, has kicked off in Johannesburg and Tshwane.
The new law aims to make roads safer by removing habitual traffic offenders from South Africa’s roads and highways. WesBank head of motor Ghana Msibi provides some advice on how drivers can avoid accumulating points.
How does the point system work?
Each driver will start on a clean slate with zero points. The maximum permissible number of points is 12. Points work on an accumulative basis with a different number of points assigned to specific traffic infringements, together with a fine. If you accumulate 12 or more points, your licence will be suspended for three months.
One point is reduced every three months if no further violations occur within the three months, but should you exceed three suspensions, you could permanently lose your licence. A licence can be cancelled if it has been suspended for the third time.
What are the points allocated to?
These are some of the traffic offences that could increase your demerit points:
Driving without a licence equals four demerit points. Driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance will be six demerit points (determined by the court).
Using and holding a cellphone while driving will be one demerit point. Speeding can be anywhere from two to six points depending on the speed limit (determined by the court).
Skipping a stop sign (light vehicles) is one demerit point and for buses and trucks, it is two points. The new demerit points system is similar to what is already in use in several European countries and has been adapted for South African road users.
A driver who is disqualified for the third time will permanently lose their licence card and will have to reapply for testing as if they were a first-time licence applicant. The new system will also prevent you from renewing your drivers and/or vehicle licence if you do not pay your traffic fines.
How can you avoid accumulating points?
A motorist must carry their driver’s licence at all times. This is required by legislation. When driving, it is imperative to adhere to the speed limit and to maintain a safe two-second following distance between your car and the car ahead. Avoid using your cellphone while driving. Using a phone while driving slows reaction times, which makes it difficult to keep in the correct lane, and to keep the correct following distances.
Ensure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition for daily use on the road. If you use your vehicle as a means of public transport, it’s a legal requirement to have your motor vehicle tested for roadworthiness annually.
Strive to be courteous and adhere to good road manners by respecting the rules of the road as well as fellow motorists. Be more tolerant and patient on the road and avoid aggressive driving.
Msibi said: “According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, a total of 12,921 people died on the country’s roads last year. Although this was an 8% decrease when compared to the 14,505 that had died in 2017, we are still losing too many lives to road fatalities. WesBank supports an environment of responsible driving where people are safe and adhere to the rules of our road.”