Government intends getting tougher on drivers by introducing a basket of new laws which will have a huge impact on the way South Africans drive.

The Administrative Adjudication of Traffic Offences Act, which governs the issuing of traffic fines, will come into effect early next year and will impose tougher penalties on:

  • Any driver caught having his or her elbow protruding from a moving vehicle;
  • Anyone caught driving in a convoy on weekends; and
  • Anyone driving a car without mud flaps.

The Act will also give the go-ahead for the controversial licence points demerit system, which is currently being piloted in Tshwane, to be rolled-out throughout the country.

Its introduction could lead to bad drivers having their licences revoked. Drivers will accumulate a number of demerit points for each traffic offence and these would be assigned against their licence.

A driver will be allowed to earn up to 12 points every year to keep their licence. Once this is exceeded, an automatic ban, equal to the number of points over the allocated 12 and multiplied by three months, will be imposed. Should the driver be disqualified for a third time, the licence would be taken away.

Once the licence has been revoked, drivers would have to re-apply for a learner’s licence after the disqualification period had elapsed.

Yesterday, the Eastern Cape Department of Transport referred all queries to its national counterpart .

But the Automobile Association of South Africa this week welcomed the news , as it hoped that it would change the way people drive.

Gary Ronald, the AA’s spokesperson, said the controversial demerit system was something that his association had requested from the government for a long time.

“This is good news for us; the regulations are not new. The only thing that is new is the demerit point system,” Roland said, adding that the demerit point system would make drivers more cautious and had the potential to to change their driving behaviour.

But East London Taxi Forum chairperson Gabs Mtshala described the regulations, especially the demerit system, as unfair . “ Rather give them fines and a chance to defend themselves in court.”

Buffalo City Municipality’s general manager of Public Safety, Steve Terwin, said the new regulations meant the greater part of road traffic offences would be de-criminalised and not all offences would go to court.

Makinana Funeral Services owner Phakamile Makinana said the new system was unrealistic, particularly the ban on convoys at weekends.

“How are we to transport dead people on weekends without their families and friends driving behind us?”

However, the banning of convoys on weekends would only be applicable to motor vehicles being delivered to a motor dealership. These usually form part of a convoy.