Drivers face tough new licence laws

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IOL mot pic jul11 new licence regs INLSA Obtaining or renewing your driving licence may be about to become a lot more complicated, even at drive-through centres such as this one at Langlaagte in Johannesburg. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe

Thousands of driving licences could be deemed invalid if proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act become law.

New drivers will also be under far stricter scrutiny to get their own licences if the new laws are passed. The new regulations are seen as a move to clamp down on road deaths.

The proposed changes include:

New drivers will have to drive under a provisional licence for a year. This can be suspended for two years if the driver receives more than six traffic violations, or breaks the speed limit even once.

Vehicle identification numbers must be fitted to vehicles on a metal plate, a self-adhesive, tamper-proof metal or plastic label, with threats of legal action for those who fail to comply.

Cars that are 10 years or older will be required to have roadworthy tests every second year, unless they’re classified as vintage cars.

Drivers will no longer be able to reregister their cars if an insurance company has classified them as “written off”.

Company drivers are expected to keep log books to indicate how long they have been driving, and may face legal consequences if they are caught driving for longer than five hours at a time without a half-hour break.

In addition, drivers may be required to provide proof of residence, their ID number and birth date to any licensing authority.

Cars and trucks registered to companies will also be under greater scrutiny, with driving time limits being implemented for drivers driving alone.

Company drivers are expected to keep log books to indicate how long they have been driving.

Professional drivers will no longer be allowed to drive for more than 15 hours within a space of 24 hours.

Driving schools are set to be graded and, if they do not make the cut, they will be prohibited from teaching new drivers. The driving schools can also be fined for training drivers of certain vehicle levels, such as trucks, if they have not yet been approved.

The acting chief director of Road Traffic Legislation, John Motsatsing, said several of the new amendments were drafted in the interest of drivers.

The new provisional licence system was set to teach new drivers the value of road safety, and that being conscious of road rules - under threat of having their license taken away - would produce better drivers in the future.

The validation system was to prevent drivers from claiming they had not received their licence renewal notices, as many had not updated personal information after moving.

SIGNIFICANT COMMENT

Motsatsing said there had been significant comment from the public on the changes, but the opportunity for this had now passed.

He said it would be about four to six weeks before the department had analysed the comments and decided on whether to implement, streamline or change the new regulations.

Automobile Association SA spokesman Gary Ronald said the AA supported many of the changes, such as the provisional licences and the log booking to protect professional drivers.

But the ambiguity in several of the amendments appeared to seriously disadvantage some sectors.

For example, the inability to use functional spare parts from a written-off vehicle could damage the used-car industry, and that it may become impossible to repair cars whose parts are no longer in production.

He said the department needed to clarify if all drivers would need to validate their licences - as is implied now - or whether it was just those changing address.

Ronald said several AA members had complained about the roadworthy certificate required every two years on older cars, with some claiming it was little more than a money-making racket.

Ronald said the AA supported the idea as it would enforce the safety regulations required for vehicles. - The Star

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