Making sense of the laws affecting drivers


Amendments to the National Road Traffic Act have been announced. Some have far-reaching consequences for new and existing drivers.

According to statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), on average 9,6 million driver’s licences are issued each month in South Africa. This figure includes renewed licences, but it still represents an alarmingly high number of new drivers on South African roads each month.

With approximately 40 people dying on SA’s roads each day, steps to reduce this carnage is essential. And one of the ways to do this is to address the amendment to driving licenses, which offers potential to make a big impact.

And so, one of the amendments proposed is the introduction of the provisional driver’s licence. This means that once a driver has passed their K53 driver’s licence test, they’ll be issued with a temporary licence valid for 12 months. At the end of the 12-month period, a standard driver’s licence will be issued, providing the driver’s “record” has remained clear.

The finer details:

  • As part of the provisional licence there’s a list of required conditions that needs to be met before the standard licence is issued. If any of the conditions below are broken, the provisional licence can be suspended for 24 months:
  • Exceeding the prescribed speed limit.
  • Being found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Committing six traffic offences.
  • Carrying more than the permitted number of passengers for which the seating capacity of the vehicle allows.
  • Driving a motor vehicle between midnight and 4 am.
  • Not completing the provisional driving licence logbook on all trips undertaken. A minimum of 60 hours’ driving time needs to be logged.
  • A red letter “P” must be displayed in the back window of the vehicle at all times, indicating to other road users the driver is a provisional licence holder.
  • At the end of the 12 months, if none of the above requirements has been infringed, a regular driver’s licence will be issued.

In this way the provisional driver’s licence can be helpful in changing the behaviour of new drivers. It’s an opportunity for them to get into the habit of obeying the rules of the road from the start.

Hopefully this is something that will continue once these drivers have been certified. If it helps change road behaviour it could have a positive impact in reducing the number of road accidents each year, and also the death toll on our roads – which is inevitably something we all strive for.

At this stage these are proposed amendments, due to be gazetted in July.

- Faiza Mallick

Source: The Automobile Association of South Africa

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