New Road Laws That You Need To Know About

The controversial AARTO Bill, the Road Accident Benefit Scheme and the ongoing E-Toll fiasco - these are just some of the things plaguing South African motorists these days. But wait, there's more you need to know!
Jason Snyman
2018-11-27

These days, it seems as if South Africans are constantly being bombarded with news of upcoming bills and proposals and laws. When it comes to our roads, in particular, what the government decides to implement – such as the idiotic e-toll scheme – impacts all of us.

We recently spoke about the Road Traffic Management Corp’s recent bid to have drunken driving reclassified as a schedule 5 offence – putting it on par with crimes as horrific as murder.

Then there’s the tabled Road Accident Benefit Scheme seeking to reward drunken drivers, because, of course, the government doesn’t really know what it’s doing. And unfortunately, we have to mention the controversial AARTO Bill, which is keeping many of us from sleep at night.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the many other little developments in the pipeline. These are things that you, as a motorist, simply have to know about.
 

Rumble Strips

Let’s start off with something calm and then ease ourselves into panic mode as the article progresses. Road markings! Yes, it doesn’t get any safer than that.

The South African National Roads Association (SANRAL) recently announced that it will be replacing the traditional, smoothly painted road markings with rumble strips – also known as sleeper lines, alert strips or wake-up-the-hell-up-you’re-busy-veering-off-the-road alarms.
 

In a statement published last week, SANRAL said that these strips will make their first appearance on the shoulder lines and between individual dual carriageways on the N2 and N3 around Durban.
 

The rumble strips, which replace traditionally smooth painted road markings, cause a tactile vibration and audible rumbling to be transmitted through the wheels into the vehicle interior.

These strips, as you can see from the image above, consist of little dollops of plastic paint, called Rumble Drop Markings, on the surface of the road. When driven over, they create a humming or whirring noise, which then alerts the driver that the vehicle is either leaving the road or crossing the centreline into oncoming traffic.

Fatal single-vehicle run-off-road (ROR) car crashes are commonly due to a large number of factors, such as inattention, traction loss, over-reaction, crash avoidance, mechanical failure and speeding. Rumble Strips won’t prevent you from leaving the road if you’re speeding, but they will alert you if you’re looking down at your phone or dozing off behind the wheel.

New Zealand has used this system to great effect since the late 80s, reducing ROR crashes by up to 80%, so, who knows?
 

JHB Traffic Wardens Awarded Even More Power

Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, recently announced the graduation of 171 new traffic wardens, attached to the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.

These wardens are former Extended Public Works Programme employees, who had been trained to control traffic flow. The mayor announced that the new wardens would be granted additional authority over the motoring public. These new powers will include:

  • When in uniform, they can require a driver of any vehicle to stop;
  • They can regulate and control traffic on any public road and give directions as may be necessary;
  • They can require any person to give their name, address, and any other particulars for identification purposes, if they suspect the person of having committed an offence; and
  • In respect of any motor vehicle, demand the owner, operator or driver to produce any documents as may be prescribed in terms of the National Road Traffic Act of 1996.

The mayor urged the new wardens to help restore law and order to the city.
 

This is not merely a job but a calling to serve, which will prove along the way to be a thankless one,” he said. “When you caution an errant motorist or issue a stiff fine to another, you’re likely to be reprimanded as though you are the offending party.

Time For A Service

The Competition Commission is currently applying the final touches to a new Code of Conduct for the South African automotive industry.

CEO of auto-parts company Autoboys, Filum Ho, said:
 

As it stands, SA car owners are unique in the world because they are typically locked into using a vehicle manufacturer’s service centres, repair shops and parts in what are dubbed ‘embedded’ motor or service plans.

This proposed new Code will grant car owners the right to repair or service their vehicles at any service provider of their choosing, without voiding the warranty.  

I believe it will have a positive effect. Cheaper prices and better service. Work will be done more quickly too as there’ll be more choice.

The need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment has been evident for some time, with vehicle manufacturers maintaining control over consumers for far too long.

Car owners don’t want to lose the warranty on their vehicle, and forfeit the right to free repairs in the event of something going wrong during that time. Manufacturers have held this over our heads to gain full control of where we service the car, who repairs it, which equipment or accessories to use and most importantly – how much we pay.