Government looking at changes to South African speed limits and drunk driving laws

The Department of Transport is considering a number of proposed changes to South Africa’s traffic laws, but stresses that the changes are not imminent and all due processes will be followed.

Speaking in an interview with 702, Department of Transport spokesperson Ayanda Allie Payne said that one of the proposals includes the possible reduction of the blood alcohol limit for drunk driving.

She said that her department is also considering the reduction of speed limits in the country.

However, she noted that Transport minister Fikile Mbalula considers all proposals and that the changes are not necessarily imminent.

“There is no action at the moment to reduce the blood alcohol level and there is no imminent reduction of speed limits.

“We are considering all these proposals but no we are not going to sneak anything through the backdoor.”

She added that her department was busy working on a number of feasibility studies regarding these proposals.

Speed limits 

Allie-Paine has previously said that a new 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.

Alcohol limit

Allie-Paine said that her department was considering a proposal 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.

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Government looking at changes to South African speed limits and drunk driving laws