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The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill was recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa. This legislation has been designed to change driving behaviour through the implementation of a demerit system in Johannesburg and Tshwane.  WesBank unpacks how this new law aims to make roads safer by removing habitual traffic offenders from South Africa’s roads and highways and provides some advice on how you can avoid accumulating points.

How does the point system work?

Each driver will start off on a clean slate with zero points. The maximum permissible number of points is 12. Points work on an accumulative basis with a different number of points assigned to specific traffic infringements, together with a fine. If you accumulate 12 or more points your licence will be suspended for a period of three months.

One point is reduced every three months if no further violations occur within the three-month period, but should you exceed three suspensions you could permanently lose your licence. A licence can be cancelled if it has been suspended for the third time.

What are the points allocated to?

These are some of the traffic offences that could increase your demerit points:

  • Driving without a licence equals four demerit points.
  • Driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance will be six demerit points (determined by court).
  • Using and holding cell phone while driving will be one demerit point.
  • Speeding can be anywhere from two to six points depending on the speed limit (determined by court).
  • Skipping a stop sign (light vehicles) is one demerit point and for buses and trucks it is two points.

The new demerit points system is similar to what is already in use in several European countries and has been adapted for South African road users. A driver/operator who is disqualified for the third time will permanently lose the license/operator card and will have to reapply for testing, as if they were a first-time license/operator applicant. The new system will also prevent you from renewing your drivers and/or vehicle licence if you do not pay your traffic fines.

How can you avoid accumulating points?

  • It is important that a motorist carries their drivers’ licence at all times. This is required by legislation.
  • When driving it is imperative to adhere to the speed limit and to maintain a safe two second following distance between your car and the car ahead.
  • Avoid using your cell phone while driving. Using a phone while driving slows reaction times which makes it difficult to keep in the correct lane, and to keep the correct following distances.
  • Ensure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition for daily use on the road. If you use your vehicle as a means of public transport, it’s a legal requirement to have your motor vehicle tested for roadworthiness annually.
  • Strive to be courteous and adhere to good road manners by respecting the rules of the road as well as fellow motorists. Be more tolerant and patient on the road and avoid aggressive driving.

“According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, a total of 12 921 people died on the country’s roads last year. Although this was an eight percent decrease when compared to the 14 0505 that had died in 2017, we are still losing too many lives to road fatalities. WesBank supports an environment of responsible driving where people are safe and adhere to the rules of our road,” says WesBank Head of Motor, Ghana Msibi.