ASSIST247 ARTICLES - TRAFFIC DEMERIT SYSTEM
South Africa introduces the demerit system for driving offences
Many countries use a demerit system of some kind for traffic violations. On a basic-level, a demerit system entails drivers losing points on their licenses for each transgression. Points are scaled, so a parking fine may cost you one point while driving an overloaded vehicle may cost you 5 points. In South Africa’s case, drivers will be allocated 12 points. Should they lose all 12 points within one year, their licenses will be suspended. After three suspensions the licenses of particularly negligent, reckless or unfortunate drivers will be cancelled and drivers will be fined. But a penalty-free year (which means no transgressions) will earn drivers an additional 12 points and a bonus point.
South Africa has been threatening to introduce the demerit system for some time, with nothing really coming of it. It was taken for a test drive in Pretoria towards the end of 2008, but owing to a number of unforeseen hiccups, the nation-wide release has been delayed until 2010. In the meantime, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offenses system (AARTO) released a list of traffic violations along with their fines and cost in points. And motorists will be informed of the number of points that would have been docked from their licenses had the system been in place, presumably in an attempt to notify people of their lucky escape and convince them of the importance of safer driving in the future.
There will be incentives (read rewards) for drivers who settle their fines within 32 days. Prompt payment will earn road rule violators a 50% discount, which seems contradictory to very nature of the punishment system, as drivers are unlikely to learn anything other than to pay fines as soon as possible. Those who feel the need to dispute their fines can opt for a court trial.
Presumably a great deal of research and preparation went into the creation of this system; it seems, however, to contain some rather interesting decisions. The most points that you’ll lose in one go is six, in conjunction with a court appearance, and there are quite a few transgressions that will earn you this particular punishment, but there also seem to be some rather glaring inconsistencies, for instance:
South Africa has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world so a comprehensive road safety programme is a necessity, but one has to question the wisdom of the one currently proposed.