Transport minister Fikile Mbalula plans to introduce strict new rules around alcohol and driving through the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.
Presenting the bill to parliament on Tuesday (13 October), Mbalula said the bill proposes an effective prohibition of any drinking and driving.
“No person shall drive on a public road or occupy the driver’s seat of a vehicle, the engine of which is running, while there is any concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of a person’s body.
“This will ensure that we bring zero-tolerance to drivers who drink alcohol and drive on our roads, placing all of us and our loved ones in danger.”
Mbalula said that the plan to introduce a zero-tolerance around alcohol has been ’emboldened’ by recent data from the South African Medical Research Council and Unisa.
The minister said that the data shows that:
- Driver intoxication significantly increases the risk of crashes which involve both the driver and other road users;
- Fatal crashes attributed to alcohol were shown to be significantly higher, relative to crashes attributed to speeding and other driver risks;
- The risks for fatal crashes due to alcohol was significantly greater over weekends and long weekends;
- Alcohol impairs driving ability by either suppressing or stimulating the nervous system;
- South Africa has one of the highest road traffic death deaths tolls internationally – with alcohol use a high contributor.
“The state is spending billions of brands on the Road Accident Fund, so we need to ensure that we undertake new measures to reduce accidents and saves lives,” he said.
The National Road Traffic Act (NRA) currently enables those who have consumed alcohol to get behind the wheel provided they are under the blood alcohol limit.
These laws differentiate 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.