Updated driving rules for South Africa during level 2 lockdown – including changes for private vehicles

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has published a new directive which provides further clarity around the country’s driving regulations in line with the move to the level 2 lockdown.

The directive amends the current regulations so that private vehicle are permitted to carry their maximum licensed passenger capacity.

The directive also confirms that all tourist transport services are permitted and that all public transport operating licenses and accreditation certificates, which expired from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 August 2020, are deemed valid until 28 February 2021.

In regulations published at the end of August, Mbalula confirmed that all long-distance intra-provincial and inter-provincial travel by private vehicles and public transport services are permitted.

  • Minibus, midibus or minibus taxi -type services are permitted to carry not more than 70% of their maximum licensed passenger-carrying capacity for long-distance intra-provincial travel and interprovincial travel;
  • Bus services are permitted to carry not more than 70% of their licensed passenger-carrying capacity for long-distance intraprovincial and interprovincial travel;
  • Bus, minibus, midibus, minibus taxi -type services, e-hailing services, meter taxis, shuttle services, chauffeur driven vehicles and scholar transport vehicles are permitted to carry 100% of their maximum licensed passenger capacity for short-distance travel;

The directive also confirms that the transportation of liquor is now permitted. Notably, this week also the first major deadline for licence renewals and government has indicated that motorists will face penalties if their licences are found to have expired.

Masks

The latest directive does not make any further amendments to the existing transport regulations, which means that masks will still be required for passengers travelling in vehicles.

Motorists can be fined as much as R1,000 for breaking this law under the current State of Disaster, says managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert.

Herbert said while Covid-19 continues to spread, drivers need to treat face masks in the same way that they would a seat belt.

“A driver who wants to ensure that their passengers are protected from unnecessary harm should a crash be unavoidable, will always ensure that every passenger has a seat belt fastened.

“In the same way that you ensure safety belts are secured before starting, ask passengers to put their face masks on as well. If you struggle to drive with a mask yourself because it fogs your glasses, purchase a mask that prevents this.

“Research is showing that the wearing of face masks is one of the strongest defences against the transmission of the virus. Even if a hefty fine is not enough to convince you, the importance of not contracting the disease should.”

When it comes to travelling with people with whom you share a home, the regulations appear to be open to interpretation, said Herbert.

“If you are pulled over, however, you should wear a face mask when speaking to the police officer. As such, keep your mask close at hand for this and in case the officer requests that you wear one with a passenger, irrespective of who they are.

“There have been instances where officers threaten penalties for not wearing a mask with a passenger but there are more cases where the officer simply asks you to wear the mask. If the officer does not simply ask you to wear a mask, explain your living situation.

“There are more reasonable officers than irrational ones. They don’t make the news or social media because it has no interest factor.”

Herbert said that other fines that can affect motorists include:

  • Fines for travelling outside of curfew which starts at 22h00 and ends at 04h00;
  • Failure of public transport operators to observe maximum load capacities.

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Updated driving rules for South Africa during level 2 lockdown – including changes for private vehicles