Take Note: new 0% blood-alcohol limit from June 2020

You’ve probably noticed additional roadblocks and checkpoints on South African roads already. This is due to the new legislation that will be implemented in June 2020. Currently, your blood may not have an alcohol content of more than 0.05%, but with the new legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers, it will be 0%.

This law forms part of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act, which was proposed by Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula in November 2019. “We are going to be intolerant to drinking and driving. We’re going beyond saying there’s some percentage – it must be zero percent. It’s going to be zero. No alcohol in the blood – and the law is going to bite with regard to that,” he said.

Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) says it supports the incoming law and that it will help put an end to the confusion around the legal blood-alcohol limit. Mbalula added that the new legislation received overwhelming support from citizens; out of 500 000 comments received, only one allegedly queried the zero-tolerance rule.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) raised the following concern. “The regulations say those who lose their licences due to the accumulation of the maximum demerit points may be informed by registered post or electronic means, but the AARTO Act says only registered post may be used. This makes the regulation void.” OUTA also listed 22 errors in cross-referencing in the regulations saying that the way the regulations were drafted makes it difficult to read and interpret.

What will happen if you get caught?

With the new stricter drunk driving laws, you’ll also see the introduction of the much-discussed driving demerit system. According to the South African Police Service (SAPS), those over the limit will be arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence of Liquor.

With the reclassification, drunk driving will be a schedule 5 offence placing it in the same schedule of crimes such as murder or rape. Persons arrested for drunk driving will spend a minimum of 7 days behind bars before they may be considered for bail, which can be denied in some situations. Depending on your prior convictions, you could face a two-year prison sentence, a R2000 fine, or both. You will receive a criminal record, and you could lose your driver’s license, or have it suspended.

With the demerit system, a driver may incur no more than 12 demerit points without their license being suspended. On the 13th point, and every point thereafter, your license will be suspended for three months for every point over 12. If you incur 15 demerit points, for example, the suspension period will be nine months.

Over the 2019 festive season, almost 25 000 drunk drivers were arrested by the police for drunk driving. During a media briefing on festive road stats, Police Minister, Bheki Cele announced that alcohol consumption was at the centre of most crimes.

Dr Leana Olivier, CEO of FARR, said, “A zero-tolerance limit, within a country where we have got such a big problem with drunken driving, is most probably the way to go.” This new law could be the end of the road for drunk drivers in South Africa. To be safe, people under the influence should instead consider using a ride-hailing application such as Uber or Bolt.

Easter Tips to Keep Safe

You’ll have noticed by now that we often post road safety features. That’s because, sadly, there are a high number of accidents on our roads. Even if you’re a responsible driver, you have to constantly account for the other guy.

So, we’ve compiled some safety tips for you to keep in mind if you’re doing any long distance driving this Easter.

Do your checks.

You know what sucks? Having a breakdown or a flat tyre in the Middleberg of nowhere (that’s a sly reference to one of our other blogs, by the way, check it out here). So you should check your tyres and make sure none have any punctures.

Also, you shouldn’t inflate your tyres after hours on the road. It’s more likely to make them burst. You want to do this before heading off, so make a stop at the petrol station your first priority when you head out on your road trip.

Of course, this is the best time to ensure your oil is topped up and there is enough water. Overheating engines 100kms from the nearest station is the opposite of awesome.

Keep a cool head.

And we don’t just mean in terms of the air conditioning, but that definitely is a must. Technically, the hot season only stops near end of April, so it could be a hot day out there. But what we’re actually referring to is: road rage.

Many South Africans lose their cool on the roads. We are a highly stressed society. But we’ve got to learn to let things go. You don’t know who is driving the other vehicle you’re honking angrily at. It could be someone dangerous. Always consider the safety of your family first and foremost, and if someone cuts you off, or does something else that is highly inconsiderate, dangerous even, rather let it go.

Seatbelts are for everyone.

We have mentioned in a Facebook post before that a high number of men (yes, men) don’t wear their seatbelts – the assumption being that with airbags in the car, they’ll be fine in an accident. This actually isn’t true. Airbags are designed to work best when you’re wearing your seatbelt. In fact, they can be dangerous if you’re not wearing your seatbelt.

But there’s also an assumption that people in the backseat don’t need to worry about seatbelts. Perhaps because the seats in front of them act as a shield. This isn’t the Avengers, and in any case, Shield turned out to be infiltrated by Hydra.

But we digress.

You don’t want your kid to go flying into your backseat after crashing your car while travelling at 120km per hour. Insist the children wear their seatbelts, it’s the responsible thing to do.

Daytime headlights.

Keep them on during the day – this will increase visibility. Again, you might think you don’t need to worry about increased visibility when there’s enough natural light, but you should still be worried about the other guy. Because people can switch off on long road trips and go into a lull.

Lulls are bad because of the whole… general lack of awareness thing. Having your lights on could help make the other driver more aware of you.

Switch it up. (And go easy on the food.)

Long drives take their toll on drivers, impacting concentration. It’s a good idea to switch drivers every two hours. Coffee in a cannister is also a good idea. What isn’t is having a protein heavy meal. Skip the hamburger at that fast food joint during lunch – rather have something light. When you have a big meal, it impacts your body’s priorities. Which switch to digestion mode, reducing alertness. Rather snack if you don’t mind eating in the car.

What’s relatively non-messy (and is still acceptable as a protein meal) is nibbling on biltong. It’s one of our best snacks! Try to avoid junk food though, that’ll definitely mess with your ability to concentrate. So no potato chips, sweets, etc. Rather eat nuts and dried fruit.

You know what offers a surprising amount of concentration, but doesn’t have the serious crash of energy drinks (which are really bad for you)? Water. Keeping yourself hydrated is excellent for staying fresh.

Above all, have a happy Easter!

We hope you have a safe, pleasant trip, and enjoy your well-earned break. When you come back, maybe you’ll decide it’s time for a new car – we’ll take your current one off your hands.

Advanced Driving: Take your skills up a gear.

It’s a new year, and that means, well, you might not keep to all your resolutions, but one thing you can do is constantly work at improving yourself.

Our roads are known to be dangerous at times. Whether that’s because of other drivers driving negligently or because the road surfaces aren’t how they should be, it can be treacherous out there.

That’s where Advanced Driving courses come in handy. You are taught some of the skills you need to be able to handle situations that are precarious. Let’s look at some of the options available to you.

Manufacturer specific courses.

You can often find that your car manufacturer has their own driving academies, which specialise in that brand’s vehicles.

For instance, you can do Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen driving courses.

Volkswagens are among the most popular cars, and in fact, we find a lot of people sell us theirs, which illustrates the popularity of this manufacturer for at least first-time car owners.

The courses available include exciting courses like the GTI 7 Full Day Course. You get to take control of the fun and gorgeous GTI  7 in a track and skidpan driving course. The idea being, when one drives a high-performance car, one is likely to drive much faster, gearing up much quicker, and when one does, the manageability of the car becomes trickier. It is more difficult to react to sudden situations at top speeds. It is also more difficult to take corners. It would be negligent when buying a high-performance car to not ensure you have the skills to handle it. Simply the ability to accelerate much quicker makes it tempting to do so.

So, the course helps provide you with an understanding of how the vehicle handles at higher speeds… and to be able to correct sudden skids – a danger on our roads when driving fast.

Hi, Jack.

There is also a course, by the National Hijack Prevention Academy, on how to deal with a sadly all too common South African crime phenomenon: hijackings. This is so important because a hijacking can happen at any time, day or night. One key aspect is an awareness of the car behind you. Does it seem to be following you? What happens when you try a little used route – does it turn when you turn? One of the better tricks is to pull into a service station with a clear avenue of escape, and see if the vehicle continues to follow you inside the service station. If so, be ready to take off – and head straight for the police.

The course provides you with these sorts of insights as well as what to do in the event you are caught off-guard and are in the process of being hijacked. This will increase your chances of getting through the incident unscathed.

Do you feel the adrenaline?

Another school, Adrenalin Specialised Driving provides a host of courses, including defensive driving courses. In their own words, “the aim of the Adrenalin Defensive Driving Courses is to provide training to licensed drivers to raise awareness, skill levels and assess attitude and the potential danger associated with the wrong attitude.”

Other courses include Advanced Driving & Car Control, High Performance / Track Driving, and Skidpan Car Control.

Whichever you choose (or perhaps you want to do them all), you will come out a better driver.

What South Africa needs is more drivers like you willing to learn how to handle different driving situations. And it is possible that you can reduce your insurance premiums, or at least request the annual increases are not as high as they could be, by sending a copy of your driving course certificate to your insurance company’s head office.

So, go on, get into the right gear for 2019 through a willingness to take your driving to the next level.

Road Safety this holiday season.

Road Safety.

We hear about it in the news every year: the number of fatalities on the road during the holiday season. Well, road safety is of paramount importance, so we’ve compiled a list of some simple ways to keep you and your family safe on the roads this December.

We want everyone to have fun, but also to be cautious. It’s better to be safe than sorry…

Let’s look at the ways to stay safe.

Put your phone onto Do Not Disturb mode.

Most phones have a Do Not Disturb function of some kind or other. The reason it is useful is, even when we have the best intentions about not using our phones while driving a car, a sudden phone call or message notification beep can be oh so tempting.

The reason to avoid using your phone on the road is just by reading the messages, you increase your risk of an accident by 22 times. That’s massive. If you’re on your way to Durban or Cape Town or Johannesburg, chances are you’re driving at 120 km/h. At that speed, you’re almost certainly guaranteed a fatal crash in an accident.

By putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’, you remove temptation, and you can focus on the road.

Getting enough sleep is as important as not drinking.

We all know drinking alcohol, especially a lot of it, before getting behind the wheel is bad. It increases your risk of an accident considerably. But not many people know that being severely sleep deprived can be as bad. Not only does it lead to much slower reaction time, but if you’re exhausted enough you may experience something called ‘microsleeps’. It’s basically when your brain, as sleep deprived as it is, actually shuts down for extremely brief moments… frequently. Nothing could be more dangerous.

Make sure the night before a long road trip, you go to sleep early, and get plenty of rest. One way to ensure this is to turn off your phone or tablet computer an hour before you plan on going to sleep. They actually stimulate the brain. If you’re one of those who likes to read before bed, rather get an old-fashioned paper book. Or even certain types of Kindles are almost the same as reading from a page, because of the screen tech they use.

Whatever the case, a good, restful night is one of the most important things you can do.

Choose your music carefully.

An Israeli study showed that music with high beats per minute, like Trance music, has the effect of making drivers more aggressive and likely to take risks.

There’s no need to listen to intense music; listen to music that will help you concentrate and focus, but not at the expense of your inhibitions. Examples of good music to help you concentrate include Bach and Mozart, but if that isn’t your thing, any good old-fashioned music will do… provided it doesn’t make you more aggressive. There are often stretches of windy roads where you can’t tell if vehicles driving in the opposite lane are literally around the corner. If you’re feeling too aggressive while trailing behind a slow truck, you may just feel compelled to overtake on a blind corner or hill.

Don’t do it.  Murphy has a Law, and that Law tends to come true when we do things like dangerous overtaking.

Increase your visibility.

This is the simplest trick of all. Simply run your headlights during the day. But even if you’re perfectly visible at 12 noon, a lot of people don’t turn on their headlights during civil twilight (the first stretch of twilight i.e. the time the sun has set, but it still lightens up the horizon quite a bit). They don’t realise that, because there is still enough light to see without turning on the headlines, they themselves aren’t as visible to other cars.

Always wear a seat-belt.

You’d think this one was obvious, but a lot of people (interestingly enough, mainly men) believe that they don’t need to wear seat-belts because of airbags.

Problem is, airbags are designed to work under the assumption that you are wearing your seat-belt. And if you aren’t, they can also cause you some serious harm.

Besides, being flung out of a moving car is not fun. And on that note, there is also the erroneous belief that if you’re in the back, you also don’t need to wear a seat-belt. Being flung around the car like a ragdoll will quickly cure that misconception. But let’s just avoid it altogether and rather put safety first.

Stay safe, everybody!

One last thing. Try to avoid having to stop at the side of a road to use the bathroom (when nature calls, don’t necessarily go to nature). There are normally petrol stations at regular intervals on a journey. But some road trips have long stretches without them. Try plan your trip, so even if you don’t feel like using the bathroom, you do at the last station before the stretch begins.

That way you can best avoid making a pitstop in the middle of nowhere, where anything can happen.

Stay safe, use common sense, and always err on the side of caution, and you should get to your destination just fine.