File picture: David Ritchie / Independent Media.

In August, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act into law.

In essence, each motorist will start with a zero-point balance. Every time you are caught committing a traffic offence, points are tallied according to the seriousness of the offence. If you reach the 13 points, your license will be suspended for three months. For every three offence-free months, one point will be deducted from your balance. Ultimately, if your license is suspended three times, it can be cancelled.

Dialdirect believes that if properly enforced, Aarto will help change driver behaviour, and reduce traffic fatalities in much the same way as its insurance app, which monitors driving behaviour, has done since its launch in 2017.

“Using the latest in international telematics technology, our app monitors dangerous driving behaviours including cellphone use, speed, acceleration and harsh braking. While Dialdirect offers a financial incentive to motorists who drive right, keeping your license, and ultimately your insurance intact, is also a pretty good motivating factor,” says Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance.

There are four specific driving behaviours where the Dialdirect app could help prevent Aarto demerits:

Driving while holding or using a cellphone: One of the seven drive score factors that the Dialdirect app measures is cellphone 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 R1250 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 breaking 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.

“Making drivers more cognisant of their behaviour behind the wheel does go a long way to reducing road incidents and the devastation we currently experience on our roads every day. In fact, since its launch, our app has managed to improve users’ driving behaviour by 40%,” says Tshifularo.

Maanda Tshifularo

To improve your driving habits:

Don’t speed: According to the World Health Organisation, you could save your own or someone else’s life with just a 10 km/* 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.

Lane discipline: 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 ahead: 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.

To download the app and start making South Africa’s roads safer, visit the Playstore or iTunes and search for Dialdirect Insurance App.