The government may keep postponing the implementation of the demerit system, but the reality is that motorists are one day going to have to accept this system. Once the demerit system has been implemented, you can expect things to change drastically with traffic law enforcement. First, traffic fine dodgers will have nowhere to hide, and second, we might actually find that our roads will be much safer if international research is anything to go by.
The success of the Demerit Point System has been documented in countries such as Spain, where the system came into force in 2006. The percentage of casualties had decreased by 11% in the first two years of its implementation.
The new system could be an effective tool to curb dangerous behaviour such as driving under the influence of alcohol,” says Angus MacArthur, General Manager of Alcohol Breathalysers & www.breathalysers.co.za , the leading supplier of affordable re-usable breathalysers in South Africa. Drivers who get caught will receive up to twelve demerit points. “If you get 12 demerit points, your driver’s license will be suspended and if your license is suspended three times, it will be revoked. If the prospect of jail does not scare you in the least bit, consider having to re-apply for a driver’s license – with all the long queues and red tape,” says MacArthur.
The government might also consider a double-point demerit system for holiday seasons. This could be an effective road safety approach, as many lives are lost every year on the roads over the Easter and Christmas holidays. Again, this is an approach that proved a success in New South of Wales, Australia. In 1999, the regional government there trialed a doubling of demerit points for offences over a 45-day holiday period which included publicity about the penalty and enhanced enforcement. The result was a decrease of between 27% and 34% of fatal crashes, a decrease of between 27% and 30% in road deaths, and a general reduction in traffic infringements. As a result the New South of Wales authorities have since introduced double demerit points for many offences during busy holiday periods such as long weekends, Christmas, New Year and Easter.
What can motorists do to prevent being caught in the demerit system web? Well, for one, they need to be law-abiding citizens. While the demerit point system will penalise you if you do not abide by the rules, there will be incentives for those who do. For every three months a driver does not get penalised, they lose one demerit point.
There is no excuse for breaking the law. “There is no reason, for example, why you should be drinking and driving in the first place. There are alternatives – if you are drinking with friends, you should always ensure that there is at least one sober person who can drive you home. You can also leave your car at home and take a taxi.” says MacArthur. “The best alternative, however, is to not get drunk in the first place and use your own breathalyser to check your limit,” he concludes.
Alcohol Breathalysers CC