The portfolio committee on Transport has asked for public comments on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill. A closing date for submissions has been set for 20 January 2021, with the proposed changes in the bill now only set to come into effect in 2021 if the bill is passed.
The bill will introduce many new traffic and motoring-related changes including further regulations around driving schools, licences and traffic wardens. The bill will also bring with it a total prohibition for use and consumption of alcohol for all drivers on South African roads. The current National Road Traffic Act enables drivers who have consumed alcohol to drive a vehicle provided they are under the legal blood alcohol limit.
There are a number of proposed changes for driving centres in South Africa:
Alec Moemi, Transport director-general, has said that government is planning to introduce new motor vehicle licence plates under the bill too. According to Moemi the new regulations are particularly important when identifying cars during road accidents.
“We are looking at a new system that will include the embedding of microdots into a new number plate, that will then be regulated. Manufacturers, as well as those that print out and issue them to motor vehicle owners (will also be regulated) so that number plates that are forged will be easily identified.”
Microdots, as a safety feature on South African vehicles, have seen increasing popularity and are classified as a particle with a diameter smaller than 1.8 mm which bears a unique, optically readable microdot identifier – typically the vehicle’s 17-digit VIN number or another registered PIN.
Moemi said technology currently employed across the country’s highways, especially in Gauteng and Cape Town, as well as at the country’s borders, will be able to scan these micro-dots. Similar technology can also be deployed to scan vehicles that travel under highway bridges.
Moemi also said that new features will enable government to better understand national road usage. He said that South Africa’s traffic impact is currently calculated by department employees at intersections or by using Gauteng’s e-toll gantries.
“In this regard, these micro-dots will also help us (measure) traffic patterns and hotspots.”
The legislation, while not mentioned in the summary of the bill, does make reference to the introduction of a new ‘provisional’ driver’s licence in South Africa.
In an October presentation to parliament, the department said that current regulations will be amended to include three types of driving licences in the country.
South Africa’s licensing system is time-based – an individual is allowed two years to get their driver’s licence after receiving a learner’s licence. Driver licensing systems are designed to provide new drivers of motor vehicles with driving experience and skills gradually over time in low-risk environments.
Drivers typically passes through three steps or stages:
Graduated drivers’ licensing generally restricts night, highway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full driver’s licence.