Driver demerit system, urgent our viewpoint

2015-12-24 06:00

THE South African Driver Demerit System, if implemented correctly, could be an answer to the country’s shocking road accident and fatality statistics.

With roads becoming increasingly congested, and reckless and negligent driving an everyday concern for most motorists, traffic-enforcement officials are in desperate need of a system that will see offenders pay fines and possibly have their licences suspended.

With tens of thousands of people expected to drive to different destinations across South Africa this festive season, many would have hoped for the system to already be in place.

Unfortunately, the holidays have become synonymous with road-accident fatalities and this is something the Department of Transport is desperate to tackle. The current system of penalties, especially for those offences that are not court-summons offences, has proved futile.

Municipalities across the country have struggled to recover fines, with some resorting to discounting penalties or scrapping them after a certain period. It is a poor deterrent and has done little to stem the poor attitude and rampant lack of courtesy on the roads.

The proposed system has had its fair share of delays and there are many who will look at the proposed launch date of April next year with scepticism. The delays have been caused by law-enforcement criteria and an analysis of human resources needed to make sure the system is run efficiently. Each driver will start with zero points and the more demerits you incur the greater your chance of having your licence suspended.

The scheme, which aims to discourage motorists from breaking the rules of the road, is solid in terms of legislation but it needs proper enforcement to work.

Existing penalties have been flawed, with traffic officers or motorists exploiting loopholes to prevent paying fines.

While the principle behind the system sounds fantastic, the Department of Transport will need to find new ways to discourage its officers from soliciting bribes. The most severe penalty of six points will apply to anyone found guilty of driving under the influence and excessive speeding. The penalty of four demerit points will be handed to anyone driving without a licence.

For tens of thousands of motorists, the implementation of the system cannot come soon enough. Any further delays will erode whatever little trust there remains that the Department of Transport is committed to dealing with the carnage on the country’s roads.

- Supplied.

The system, if implemented correctly, could be an answer to the country’s shocking road
accident and fatality statistics. With tens of thousands of people expected to drive to
different destinations across South Africa this festive season, many would have hoped for the system to already be in place

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