3 planned traffic changes that every South African needs to know about

With the festive season around the corner, government has announced that it is looking to make a number of changes to South Africa’s traffic laws.

These changes are primarily geared to making the country’s roads safer – including much stricter rules around drunk driving and speed limits.

BusinessTech looked at these planned changes in more detail below.


Speed limits 

The Department of Transport says that it is reviewing South Africa’s current speed limits.

Department spokesperson Ayanda Allie-Paine said the proposal could see the baseline top speeds across the country’s roads reduced by 20km/h.

This would effectively drop the speed limit on the country’s highways from 120km/h to 100km/h, while the top speeds on main roads would drop from 100km/h to 80km/h.

Speeds in residential areas would decrease from 60km/h to 40km/h.

“Our road safety strategy has considered all these factors. Legislation is being reviewed to address and bring in place an edifice of various interventions to respond adequately to the challenge that South Africa is facing,” Allie-Paine said.

“Among these, a review of the international best practice on speed reductions, as is the case in countries such as Sweden and Australia.

“Due to the unique situation in South Africa, these cannot just be implemented without an impact assessment study,” she said.


Drunk driving

The Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation are reviewing South Africa’s drunk driving laws.

They aim to drop the legal blood-alcohol level to 0%, meaning that drivers will not be allowed to drink alcohol and drive at all.

The National Road Traffic Act (NRA) currently differentiates between normal drivers and professional drivers (those drivers who hold professional driving permits).

For normal drivers, the concentration of alcohol in any blood specimen must be less than 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres, and in the case of a professional driver, less than 0.02 gram per 100 millilitres.

Speaking to the Weekend Argus, Department of Transport spokesperson Ayanda Allie-Paine said if given the green light, the new proposals will become part of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) system which establishes a new demerit system.


Demerit system

South Africa’s new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will be in full effect from June next year (2020), says Transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

Speaking at an event in October, Mbalula said that the new system will greatly improve safety on the country’s roads and help reduce fatalities.

Signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa in August, the act will introduce a new demerit system meaning all traffic fines across the country will now carry the same penal values.

However, not all infringements will carry demerit-points with roughly half of the infringements contemplated in schedule 3 of the Aarto regulations carrying no demerit points at all, according to Justice Project South Africa’s Howard Dembovsky.

“You may incur no more than 12 demerit points without your licence being suspended,” he said.

“On the 13th point, and for every point thereafter, your licence, operator card or permit issued in terms of road transport legislation will be suspended for three months for each point over 12.

“For example, if you incur 15 demerit points, the suspension period will be nine months.”


Read: Here are Cape Town’s proposed car licence fees for 2020

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3 planned traffic changes that every South African needs to know about