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New drivers license demerit system to be introduced on Friday, 1st September 2006
 
Details of South Africa's tough new measures to remove dangerous drivers from the road by suspending or revoking their licences have been revealed. The new system will be introduced in Pretoria on September 1 and then extended throughout the country.
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New drivers license demerit system to be introduced on Friday, 1st September 2006

Details of South Africa's tough new measures to remove dangerous drivers from the road by suspending or revoking their licences have been revealed. The new system will be introduced in Pretoria on September 1 and then extended throughout the country. Every driver will be awarded 12 points. If you lose those points through 12 demerits in a year, your licence will be suspended. After three suspensions, your licence will be cancelled.

So strict are the new regulations that you could have your driver's licence suspended immediately if, for example:
  • You're caught  speeding.  
  • You're not wearing a  seatbelt.  
  • Your car's tail  lights are not in working order.  
  • You left your licence  at home.  
  • And in addition to  losing your licence, you will be slapped with a stiff fine.  

National Transport Department official Ndivhuwo Mabaya said each motorist would be allocated 12 points at the beginning of each year. If he or she remained penalty-free at the end of the year, the next year would kick off with an additional 12 points plus a bonus point - a total of 25. This process would be repeated every year, with the result that good drivers would be rewarded by building up a bank of bonus points. Conversely, points will be deducted for offences committed during each year. However, don't think you can build up, say, five years worth of brownie points as a safeguard against any serious traffic offence you might commit in the future - such as drunken driving, excessive speeding or running over a pedestrian while you're inebriated.

In the case of major traffic violations, the law will continue to take its normal course and you will end up in court to face the music. And, if found guilty, you're almost certain to lose all your carefully hoarded points as well. Traffic officials also stress that the entire system is in a trial-and-error development phase and will be tweaked and fine-tuned continuously as the need arises in the years ahead.

The new demerit system, based on a highly successful Australian model, has been made possible by the introduction of the card-format driver's licences which enable traffic authorities to store the record of every driver.

Demerits will be rated according to a unit scale.

For example,

  • if a motorist is  found with an unregistered vehicle, he will be docked two demerit points from  his 12 points and get 10 penalty units which means a fine of  R500.  
  • Not having your  driver's licence with you also costs two demerits and a R500  fine.  
  • If you are caught not  wearing a seatbelt, you will get one demerit and pay a R250  fine.  
  • Traffic infringements  that will cost drivers three demerits include not stopping at a stop sign and  overloading by more than 25 percent.  
  • Overloaders will be  penalised by 25 penalty units - a fine of R1 250.  
  • Those caught speeding  repeatedly will be especially hit with hefty fines and demerits.   
  • If you are caught  doing up to 20 percent over the speed limit, you will get a fine of R250, but  no demerit points - for example speeding up to 72km/h in a 60km/h zone or up  to 144km/h in a 120km/h zone.  
  • If you are 21 percent  to 30 percent over the speed limit you will get one demerit point and a R500  fine - for example travelling up to 78km/h in a 60km/h zone or up to 156km/h  in a 120km/h zone.  
  • If you are 31 percent  to 45 percent over the speed limit you get two demerit points and a R750 fine  - for example up to 87km/h in a 60km/h zone or 174km/h in a 120km/h  zone.  
  • If you are 46 percent  to 60 percent over the speed limit you are docked three demerit points and  fined R1 250 - for example doing up to 96km/h in a 60km/h zone or up to  192km/h in a 120km/h zone.  
  • Doing more than 60  percent over the limit will mean the driver will go straight to court where  the magistrate will determine the fine - and four demerit points will be  deducted.

Motorists who have not converted to the new card format have already lost their licences and will have to be re-tested if they want to drive again.

Source: The Automobile Association of South Africa

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