New South African demerit system to be signed into law “soon”

South Africa’s new demerit system will be signed into law by President Ramaphosa shortly, says transport minister Blade Nzimande.

Speaking at the launch of the Easter road statistics on Thursday (2 May), Nzimande said that the introduction of the AARTO Amendment Bill will allow his department to remove all those who pose danger to other motorists on South Africa’s road network.

“The national department of transport will start in earnest to work towards a single, national database for all traffic offences in order to facilitate traffic law enforcement generally, and particularly for purposes of the implementation of the points demerit system,” he said.

“Although we have significantly reduced our crashes and fatalities on our roads, we can still do more to eradicate this calamity on our roads because one death is one too many.”

Speaking at the start of April, Nzimande said that his department had begun the rollout of Aarto service outlets at selected driving licence testing centres in Gauteng.

“We will continue to roll out these centres countrywide. This means that all road users will be accountable for any deviant and reckless actions perpetrated on our roads,” Nzimande said.

New demerit system

The National Assembly voted in favour of the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) bill in March.

With the bill having passed both houses, it will now only needs the signature of the president – barring any hiccups which may cause him to send the bill back for discussion.

With the sixth administration set to begin at the end of May, it is likely that the new system will be introduced before the end of 2019, although the president also has discretion as to when the new laws will officially come into effect.

The amendment bill is expected to fundamentally change driving in South Africa, with some of the biggest changes including:

  • Failing to pay traffic fines can lead to a block on obtaining driving and vehicle licences and an administrative fee – in addition to other penalties;
  • Where documents previously had to be delivered by registered mail through the post office, in terms of the amendment, authorities will now also be able to serve documents electronically and can send reminders via WhatsApp and SMS;
  • A new demerit system will be introduced. Depending on the severity of the offence, 1-6 points are allocated for offences. If an infringer has more than 12 points, it will result in the disqualification of the driving licence and three suspensions result in its cancellation;
  • The establishment of a new Appeals Tribunal which will preside over issues that are raised under the new bill.

Read: New road taxes and 6 other changes that every South African motorist should know about

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New South African demerit system to be signed into law “soon”