“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers” (humourist Dave Barry)
AARTO (the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act) has been partially in force for years, but its demerit provisions have been on ice for so long now that many of us have lost sight of just how seriously it will impact both ourselves as individuals, and our businesses.
Every individual and every business is at risk
Law-abiding motorists will no doubt welcome the crackdown on serial traffic offenders, but we also need to manage the risks.
Every motorist, every vehicle owner, every professional driver and every transport operator will be at serious risk of losing their licences/permits/operator cards. Even businesses outside the transport sector will need to manage this – what happens if your sales people are grounded or your office staff can’t drive to work?
The wheels are turning fast now, with amendments to the Act at long last passed by Parliament, and set to come into law when signed by the President.
Will it be delayed yet again?
The demerit proposal has been bouncing around for a decade, with several false starts and there is talk of court challenges, plus the commencement date may or may not be delayed.
But at long last the wheels are definitely turning, and turning fast.
Unlucky 13 – easier to reach than you thought
The demerit system is complicated, but in a nutshell you will in addition to paying a fine incur demerit points for a whole range of offences.
And anyone with 13 or more demerits will have their driver’s licence/professional driving permit/operator card automatically suspended (3 months’ suspension for every point over 12). And 3 suspensions will result in full cancellation.
Don’t think that 13 demerits will necessarily take the average driver a long time to accumulate. Consider the demerit points applicable to some sample offences (there are many thousands of them – the table below gives just a few examples).
Sample offences and demerit points
|(N.B. in some instances, higher demerit points apply to buses, minibuses, goods vehicles, professional drivers etc)
|Fail to licence vehicle
|No number plates on vehicle
|Number plate not clearly visible/legible
|Drive without correct code of driver’s licence
|Not keeping driver’s licence in vehicle
|Unsafe following distance
|Overtake on a blind rise or curve
|Dangerous lane change
|Fail to yield to pedestrian at pedestrian crossing
|Encroach on right half of road when turning right
|Fail to obey Stop sign
|Fail to obey Red or Amber traffic light
|Holding cell phone whilst driving
|Drunk driving or blood alcohol over limit
|Fail to stop after accident (varies according to damage or injury, failure to render assistance etc)
|16-20 km/h over limit
|21-25 km/h over limit
|26-30 km/h over limit
|31-35 km/h over limit
|36-40 km/h over limit
|40+ km/h over limit
Reducing demerit points, and discounts on fines
You are also rewarded for obeying the law –
- Any demerit points you have picked up are reduced by one point per 3 month period you remain offence-free.
- Early payment of fines will earn you a 50% discount. Set up a payment control system so you don’t miss payment deadlines.
Businesses and employers – manage your risks
Think now about how you will manage the risk of your employees (especially those employed as drivers) repeatedly offending –
- How will you monitor your drivers’ demerit points? Although for many offences both driver and operator will incur demerits, some driver offences will apply to the driver only.
- Are your employment contracts correctly structured to ensure you have access to your employees’ demerit points’ status? And to deal with the consequences if they have their licences suspended or cancelled?
- Check your insurance policies – must you disclose any changes in your employees’ demerit status? Are you at risk of losing cover?
© DotNews, 2005-2019. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).