NEW TRAFFIC RULES APPROACHING

Up until this point, many people have not paid attention to the traffic rules, or simply not cared. That is about to change with new, stricter traffic regulations being introduced onto South Africans roads in the coming months. This is particularly important for those who take speed limits for granted.

What are the new rules?

The new regulations from the Department of Transport are expected to be implemented from 11 May, 2017.

These new regulations include:

  1. Drivers will have to undergo a practical re-evaluation when renewing a licence;
  2. A complete review and revamp of the current K53 test;
  3. Speed limits to be reduced from 60km/h to 40km/h in urban areas, from 100 to 80km/h in rural areas and from 120 to 100km/h on freeways running through a residential area; and
  4. Goods vehicles above 9,000kg GVM to be banned from public roads during peak travelling times.

A long overdue K53 revamp

Apart from the new road rules, the K53 learner’s manual will be getting a review to cater for the developments in cars and road users.

  1. The review would include updates and improvements suggested by examiners, the driving school industry, and the general public.
  2. The code 10 test for heavy motor vehicles such as buses and trucks would also be reviewed, to ensure people did not choose it because it was easier than the code 8 test for light motor vehicles.

Conclusion

Breaking the speed limit is never a good idea, and although it may not lead to your imprisonment, it could still result in a lengthy, and unnecessary, court process.

References:

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)

CAN I BE PROSECUTED FOR BREAKING THE SPEED LIMIT?

Mandie is cruising along at 31 km/h over the speed limit in an attempt to keep up with the rest of the cars on the road. She thinks she is simply going with the flow of the traffic when suddenly she sees flashing lights in her rear-view mirror. Mandie does not take traffic laws seriously and has come to accept traffic fines as a “fact of life”. She regards transgression as bending the rules rather than the commitment of a crime.

Months later, when the traffic notice arrives in the post, Mandie prepares herself for a speeding fine but is shocked when the notice informs her that she has to appear in court. Unknown to Mandie and most other South Africans, an amendment to Section 35 of the National Road Traffic Act (the Act) was enacted in 2010. This means the driver of a motor vehicle that exceeds the maximum speed limit by more than 30 km/h may be criminally prosecuted and that, if convicted, his/her driver’s license may also be suspended.

This provision could be disastrous for many road users. Not only is Mandie required to appear in court, but she could also face the prospect of having her license suspended and, what’s more, receive a criminal record.

Section 35 of the National Road Traffic Act:

  1. In terms of Section 35(1)(aA)(i) and (ii) the phrase “in excess of” means a speed of 31 km/h or more over the speed limit in an urban area and a speed of 41km/h or more over the speed limit outside an urban area or on a freeway.
  2. If you commit any one of these offences and are stopped at the time of the offence, you will be arrested. You will accordingly be released on bail to appear in court on a stipulated date and time.
  3. If you are not stopped at the time, you will receive a notification in the post that you will be summonsed to appear in court in a “No Admission of Guilt” matter.

The consequences

The notice will inform you that a summons in terms of Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Act will be issued and served on you. Failure to appear in court on a criminal summons will lead to a warrant for your arrest being issued.

The Act requires a person to be convicted of an alleged offence before legal consequences follow. Since speeding as described above is a criminal offence, the State will still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty of such offence.

Furthermore, the suspension of your driver’s license for the period stipulated in the Act is not an optional requirement. It is a mandatory suspension period. One’s license will be suspended for six months in the case of a first offence. Where a person is found guilty of a second offence, his/her license may be suspended for five years and, in the case of the third or subsequent offence, for ten years.

Although many judicial officers (magistrates) have interpreted Section 35(3) as giving them discretion about suspension of your license, it does not mean that if suspending your driver’s license will prejudice you, your license will not be suspended.

Conclusion

The simple principle is that speeding can have dramatic consequences, so do not speed under any circumstances.

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)

ROAD CYCLISTS VS MOTORISTS

The popularity of road cycling as a competitive sport and a form of transportation is on the rise. This naturally leads to major safety concerns and serious accidents among both groups of road users.

Both the National Road Traffic Act[1] and the Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Act[2] regulate the rights of and rules for pedal cyclists and motor vehicle drivers on roads in the Republic of South Africa. The National Road Traffic Act has specific regulations pertaining to cycling safety and every cyclist should be alert to these regulations. Regulation 3113 states as follows:

  1. No person shall ride a pedal cycle on a public road unless he or she is seated astride on the saddle of such pedal cycle.
  2. Persons riding pedal cycles on a public road shall ride in single file except in the course of overtaking another pedal cycle, and two or more persons riding pedal cycles shall not overtake another vehicle at the same time.
  3. No person riding or seated on a pedal cycle on a public road shall take hold of any other vehicle in motion.
  4. No person riding a pedal cycle on a public road shall deliberately cause such pedal cycle to swerve from side to side.
  5. No person riding a pedal cycle on a public road shall carry thereon any person, animal or object which obstructs his or her view or which prevents him or her from exercising complete control over the movements of such pedal cycle.
  6.  A person riding a pedal cycle on a public road shall do so with at least one hand on the handle bars of such pedal cycle.
  7. Whenever a portion of a public road has been set aside for use by persons riding pedal cycles, no person shall ride a pedal cycle on any other portion of such road.
  8. A person riding a pedal cycle on a public road or a portion of a public road set aside for use by persons riding pedal cycles, shall do so in such manner that all the wheels of such pedal cycle are in contact with the surface of the road at all times.

The Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Act was passed on the 29th November 2012 and this Act has implications for both pedal cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. The Act empowers the Provincial Minister of Transport to regulate4 certain matters to increase road safety in the Province. Amongst others, regulations requiring all vehicles overtaking cyclists to ensure that there is a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres between them before passing, and law enforcement actions against cyclists who do not ride in single file, or who fail to stop at red traffic lights or stop streets were enacted.

Cyclists have the right to expect motor vehicles to overtake them safely and be on the look-out for them at intersections. The Road Traffic Act is clear where it states that drivers must take other road users into account in whatever they do. Cyclists also have the right to the left-hand side of the road (not the extreme edge of the left-hand side). We tend to forget that there are cyclists around us who are also using the roads as a means of transport. Apart from the recently built cycle-lanes in Cape Town, we do not have dedicated lanes in South Africa for cyclists to use. This means that every day cyclists are fighting for road space amongst often aggressive and ignorant drivers, according to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA).

While the law states that cyclists must wear protective headgear while riding a bicycle, for many this is a cost that they simply cannot afford, making them almost invisible to the drivers on the road.

Therefore, as a driver, ask yourself what you can do to avoid colliding with a cyclist. The AA provides some safety tips for drivers:

  • Yield to cyclists, especially at intersections and circles.

4 Dec 6, 2013 – Province Western Cape: Provincial Gazette 7208.

  • Check your blind spots and make sure the way is clear before changing lanes or direction.
  • Do not drive, stop or park in a bicycle lane.
  • Give cyclists enough room when overtaking – at least 1.5 metres.

Changing the behaviour of drivers will assist in the fight to stop cyclist crashes and deaths on our roads. However, cyclists also have to do their part by following the rules and making sure they are visible. Here are some safety tips for cyclists on the road:

  • Obey the traffic signs and rules.
  • Keep left and keep at least one metre clear of the pavement and parked cars.
  • Ride with the traffic and not against it.
  • Be visible – wear reflective clothing and a bright-coloured helmet at all times.
  • Use lights at night – a white headlight and a red rear lamp.
  • Use hand signals when turning or changing lanes.
  • Always cycle in single file.

In order to reduce the level of carnage on our roads we need to work together as road users, and this means that both cyclists and drivers need to follow the rules. The first step in doing this is to become aware of the rules and regulations in place to protect and serve the interests of both groups of road users.

Bibliography:

  1. www.aa.co.za
  2. www.arrivealive.co.za
  3. www.acts.co.za/national-road-traffic-act-1996
  4. www.polity.org.za

 [1] 93 of 1996

 [2] 6 of 2012

 [3] National Road Traffic Regulations, 2000. Government notice R225 in Government Gazette 20963, dated 17 March 2000. Effective as from 1 August 2000 (page 340/389).

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)