South Africa could soon be set for a major shake-up of its traffic laws at the beginning of next year, and new proposals for driving lessons are at the heart of the plans. A three-year body of research has plotted a road forward for the government, which includes some radical changes to the way cars – and the people who drive them – are allowed to operate.
The Traffic Law Enforcement Review Committee (TLERC) was established by the Minister of Transport Ms Dipuo Peters in 2016 to conduct a comprehensive review of traffic law enforcement in South Africa. The findings were made public earlier this year, and they’ve received a welcome boost from the AA this week.
What new traffic laws could come to South Africa?
The automotive group have given their full backing to some of the flagship changes the Committee wants to introduce. In a statement released on Wednesday, the AA stated that a few tweaks to our existing traffic laws – plus a few new guidelines – had the potential to boost the South African economy, as well as keep more motorists out of danger:
“There are several key recommendations from the Committee’s report which we not only endorse, but are anxious to see implemented. A failure to implement these as soon as possible will result in more deaths on our roads, all the while government has a solid blueprint for making significant and meaningful changes.”
“Not a moment should be wasted by these entities in reviewing the recommendations, accepting them, and implementing them. With an average of 13 500 deaths on our roads annually – at a cost to the economy of R162 billion each year. These recommendations can result in a realistic saving for the state’s coffers.”AA statement
Changes to driving lessons, K53 tests and traffic offence penalties
The AA also warned the government to avoid “dithering” on the subject, suggesting that any delays on this project would be a “dereliction of duty”. According to TLERC, these are some of the changes they want to bring in:
- The adoption of a Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS) with a 24-month probationary period for new drivers.
- The introduction of driving as a subject in schools for Grade 11 and Grade 12 learners.
- The redesign and updating of the K53 Driving Test with an emphasis on practical on-road driving.
- Compulsory annual roadworthy tests for all vehicles older than five years.
- Significant increases to penalties for distracted driving infringements such as using cellphones while driving.
Driving lessons on the school curriculum?
Arguably the most eye-catching of the lot is the suggestion that driving classes could be introduced onto a secondary school curriculum. The AA agree with TLERC that road safety education should start in schools, so potential learner drivers already have a decent grasp of traffic laws before they get behind the wheel.
The emphasis is certainly placed on education, here. As well as wanting new drivers to be placed under a 24-month probation period, the Committee have suggested redesigning the way that a practical driving test is conducted. According to the AA, it’s imperative that would-be motorists “spend more time on the roads”.
There could also be significant changes to the punitive measures our drivers have to face. Every motor which is five years or older would, under these proposals, face an “annual roadworthiness test”.
They are also lobbying for bigger fines and punishments for people who using their cellphones while driving. With Parliament set to enter its December recess next month, the proposals aren’t likely to be implemented until next year.