Proposed demerit system questioned How the points demerit system works

2016-01-27 06:00


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THE public and road safety organisations are questioning whether the implementation of the Road Traffic Points Demerit System by the national Department of Transport will make a difference in the way South Africans drive.

According to Arrive Alive, the system is to be implemented across the country from April. Repeat offenders could have their driving licences suspended or even cancelled. If drivers accumulate more than 12 demerit points they could be suspended from driving for up to six months.

Should the driver’s licence be suspended three times, their licence will be cancelled and they will have to go for training to be allowed to drive again.

The demerit system is in effect in many countries and has been adapted to meet the needs of the community to help curb traffic offences. Following the success of the system in other countries, South Africa saw this as a way to initiate a system that will encourage road users to follow the rules of the road and get penalised if they do not.

Other objectives include clearing routine traffic offences from overcrowded court rolls, enable drivers and traffic officers to access information stored in the National Traffic Information System and take reckless, illegal or fraudulent drivers off the roads.

“I think the demerit system works extremely well in countries where enforcement and routine licence checking is done. In South Africa where enforcement of our road safety rules is extremely poor and licences are seldom checked, or even legal, it is unlikely to make a great deal of difference, or bring down our exceptionally high crash rate,” said Caro Smit, founder of South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD).

She said the crash rate and fatalities that come as a result of it is because drivers are seldom penalised, tested or apprehended for offences such as no driving licence, drink driving, not wearing a seat belt, unsafe passing, unroadworthy vehicles and going through red traffic lights, and so on.

“People in South Africa are not afraid of traffic officers as they seldom enforce the rules of the road, apart from checking for speeding. Will this now change just because of the roll-out of the demerit system? SADD certainly hopes so as our extremely high road carnage is totally unacceptable and causes untold emotional and financial pain and sufferer to families,” said Smit.

At implementation, every driver will have zero points, irrespective of the number of classes of licences he or she has.

•Points will be incurred for road traffic infringements or offences committed, the number depending on the severity of the infringement or offence.

•Points will be accrue on the date a fine is paid or when the driver is convicted of the offence.

•Transport operators will receive demerit points separately from their drivers. In other words the points will be allocated to operators’ permits.

•A maximum of 12 demerit points apply­, after which the licence of the driver­ or the operator card will be suspended.

•The period of the suspension will be equal to the number of demerit points that exceed 12 multiplied by three, but the minister may prescribe a different number.

•The driver or operator will have to apply for the re-instatement of the licence on expiry of the suspension period.

•Should a driver’s licence or operator’s card be suspended for a third time, the licence or operator’s card will be cancelled. The driver or operator concerned will have to apply for a new licence or card at the end of the suspension period. This will be administered as if it was a new or first time application.

•The number of demerit points on record will be reduced by one point every three months, or as the minister may otherwise prescribe.

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