Government wants to reduce speed limit to 40km/h

The government wants to reduce the general speed limit from 60km/h to 40km/h, and has gazetted the proposals.

In the latest government gazette, published on 11 May, it opened the changes to public comment.

The new proposed speed limits are:

  • 40 kilometres per hour, applied to every public road, or section thereof, situated within an urban area.
  • 80 kilometres per hour on every public road, or section thereof, other than a freeway, outside an urban area.
  • 120 kilometres per hour on freeways – provided that a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour applies in cases where a freeway passes through a residential area.

The proposed changes have been welcomed by groups such as Arrive Alive – however, there are doubts as to whether the road-using public will fall in line should the regulations go through.

Justice Project South Africa head, Howard Dembovsky said that the draft regulations are unlikely to have an impact on the road-using public as “motorists don’t abide by the current general speed limit of 60km/h on roads in urban areas.”

“Unless the modus operandi of speed enforcement changes dramatically, all this will do is to increase the revenues currently enjoyed by the likes of the JMPD.”

Dembovsky noted that the reductions make sense insofar as school areas and places where high volumes of children and pedestrians exist, but the general definition of “urban areas” is far too broad and would, in effect, apply to all roads in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, as an example.

“Many of the roads in Ekurhuleni are huge, dual-carriageway roads with an equally huge centre median, where speed limits of 100km/h are currently posted. Now just imagine cutting that limit down to 40km/h,” he said.

“It will have no effect on the behaviour of motorists, nor will it have a measurable impact on reducing carnage – but it will make traffic authorities very rich indeed.”

Other proposals

Other proposals put forward for public comment include specific times that vehicles over 9 tons can be on the road, and new ‘powers’ of evaluation given to examiners at the time of licence renewal.

It’s proposed that heavy vehicles may not operate on a public road in an urban area between 06:00 and 09:00, and 17:00 and 20:00, Monday to Friday (weekends and public holidays are exempt).

This would not apply in cases of emergencies, or to any fire-fighting, rescue, medical, or other response vehicles.

Arrive Alive and Justice Project South Africa have both questioned the practicality of the regulations – highlighting school transportation and other public transport which needs to operate at those times.

Licence renewal

Also included in the proposals are amendments to renewing a licence.

According to the gazette, before obtaining a new driving licence an examiner may now, “by observation, inquiry, and practical test”, evaluate if you:

  • Have a licence that matched the class of vehicle you drive.
  • Know and understand road traffic signs.
  • Have a “sound understanding” of the rules of the road.
  • Are not subject to any disqualification criteria.

Applicants won’t be required to take a written test.

Comments on the proposals may be made within four weeks from the date of publication.

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Government wants to reduce speed limit to 40km/h