New traffic law won't change drivers' behaviour

12 September 2017 - 07:26 By The Times Editorial
Steering wheel. File photo.
Steering wheel. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Last week, the National Assembly passed the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill. Once signed into law, it will allow the implementation of a demerits points system for drivers.

The system docks points for those contravening traffic rules and results in the cancellation of driver's licences for repeat offenders.

On paper, it is a good plan. It works in many other countries.

Welcoming the passing of the bill, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi bemoaned the "tremendous loss of lives . as well as the continued disregard of road traffic laws".

If only the solution to our sky-high road death toll were as simple as putting a new traffic law into action.

South Africa is a complex society, and the disregard of traffic rules is merely a symptom of a culture of lawlessness trickling down from the upper echelons of the government into the daily lives of our citizens.

South Africans are angry and rightly so.

They do not see their hard-earned tax money improving their own lives; they see it being squandered by an incompetent and corrupt government.

Civil disobedience is an interesting phenomenon. It is practically what has happened with the Gauteng e-tolling system, where members of the public simply do not pay.

The Johannesburg metro police recently said they preferred using visible policing over speed cameras. In all likelihood, they found that traffic fines made no difference - and many drivers just do not pay their fines.

So why would a new traffic law suddenly change motorists' behaviour?

It won't. We will see South Africans driving around without their licences, regardless of the number of demerit points they have, because they could not care to show their government an ounce of respect.