In August, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act into law.
In essence, with the Aarto system, each motorist will start with a zero-point balance. Every time you are caught committing a traffic offence, a fine is charged and points are added to your tally according to the seriousness of the offence. For every three offence-free months, one point will be deducted from your balance. If you reach 13 points, your license will be suspended for three months. Ultimately, if your license is suspended three times, it can be cancelled.
Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance says that international telematics technology can help motorists prevent fines and demerits.
“Demerit inducing behaviour can be monitored by telematics technology. If motorists are made aware of their dangerous driving habits, and incentivised to drive right by their insurers, it will go a long way to reducing road fatalities and the devastation we currently experience on our roads every day,” says Tshifularo.
The Dialdirect telematics app, which has managed to improve users’ driving behaviour by 40%, could help prevent the following Aarto demerits:
Driving while holding or using a cell phone: One of the seven drive score factors that the Dialdirect app measures is cell phone use – which is the cause of around 25% of accidents on South African roads. Expect a R500 fine and one Aarto demerit point if you’re caught using a cellphone while driving.
Speeding: Excessive speeding is one of the top reasons why the road deaths in South Africa are so high. The demerit system has fines ranging from R250 to R1 250 and six points (nearly half of your demerit points) for exceeding the limit by more than 40km/h.
Overtaking (Acceleration Drive Factor): The demerit system is pretty clear on overtaking, and if you do this over a solid line, you will receive a R500 fine and one point against you. The Dialdirect app monitors vehicle acceleration, and if you’re hitting the gas too hard, it is most likely because you are trying to make a dangerous overtake. This inevitably lends itself to speeding, so you could end up with a double whammy if you fail to take this into account.
Failing to Stop (Braking Drive Factor): The Dialdirect app detects hard braking which can occur when you are going over the speed limit and have to make a hard brake at either the stop sign or red traffic light. Skipping a red light or stop sign will also result in a R500 fine per offence and another demerit point.
Another solution is practically, and proactively, improving your driving habits. Dialdirect Insurance offers the following practical tips to become a better driver:
- Don’t speed. According to the World Health Organisation, you could save your own or someone else’s life with just a 10 km/h decrease in speed. This small change reduces fatalities by almost 40%.
- “STOP” isn’t a suggestion, it’s a rule. Don’t overestimate your own luck, timing ability or observation skills. Stop at a red traffic light and stop sign, without fail.
- Obey the line. If a line indicates that it’s not safe to pass, don’t. If lines indicate that you need to get back in your lane, do so immediately. Even with lines permitting overtaking, always make double sure that it’s safe to do so.
- Don’t drink and drive. SA’s legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml. As a rule of thumb, two drinks in one hour will put you over the limit. Bear in mind that you could still be over the limit the morning after. Alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water. If you’ve been drinking, do not take a chance and rather call a taxi.
- Focus. Avoid distractions like eating, drinking or using your cellphone whilst driving.
- Choose the correct lane for the speed that you’re traveling at.
- Think ahead by keeping a constant eye on the vehicles in front of you.
- Plan your turns, as well as your highway entrances and exits, well in advance to ensure that you get into the correct lane early enough.
- Bear other drivers in mind. They also need to plan for your vehicle’s movements, so be sure to indicate clearly and timeously.