What are the Speed Limits of Roads in South Africa?
We’ve all heard that speed kills, and it does, but unfortunately, it can also be quite enjoyable in small doses. Many drivers might find themselves pressing down a little too hard on the accelerator pedal when they’re in a rush or maybe they realise too late that the area they’re cruising through has a much stricter speed limit than they originally thought. What are the Speed Limits of Roads in South Africa?
Speed limits vary wildly throughout the country and most are only known when you see the sign at the beginning of the road. There are, however, some averages that you can keep in mind as most roads in similar areas don’t differ from the norm too much.
|Area or Road Type
|Average Speed Limit
|The public road inside an urban area
|Public road outside an urban area that is not a freeway
Before you know it you may see the telltale flash of a speed camera or the face of a traffic officer hiding in the bushes with a radar gun, perhaps enjoying themselves a little too much. Either way, it’s a day-ruiner. Keep in mind that speed limits are also dependent on the vehicle type. The limits mentioned above apply to most motorcars and family vehicles.
Other, heavier vehicles may be more strictly regulated even on freeways
|Taxis and Buses
|Goods vehicles over 3500kgs but under 9000kgs
|Goods vehicles over 9000kgs
Now that we’ve established the rules, let’s find out what happens when you break them
What are the Fines for Speeding in South Africa?
The penalties for speeding can range from a small fine to an arrest depending on the circumstances. According to the National Road Traffic Act of 1989, the amount of the fine is determined at the discretion of the traffic officer who issues it.
A traffic officer is tasked with considering the speed of the driver as well as the area in which the violation took place. For example, travelling slightly over the speed limit on the freeway will incur a much smaller fine than travelling way over it in a residential area.
The weather may also impact the decision of a traffic officer. Travelling a bit faster than normal may be forgiven on a warm, clear day but may be seen as reckless in rainy, windy conditions.
For most speedsters, the average speeding fine will only amount to between R200-300, but if you’re caught flying down the road outside a preschool you could easily expect something closer to R1000.
Is There a Grace or Leeway when Speeding?
Yes, there is. Drivers will normally be given elbow room of around 10kms over the speed limit in any given scenario.
Authorities stress that this does not mean that the speed limit is actually 10kms higher than stated on signs. Instead, the 10km grace is designed to account for slight human error, mechanical inaccuracies from the speedometer, etc.
Can I be Arrested for Speeding?
Yes, you can. Speeding fines are only issued when a relatively small violation has taken place. If you are caught travelling at 115kms in a 100km zone, you’ll most likely be hit with a fine. If however you are caught travelling at extreme speeds far over the limit, you can be arrested and imprisoned.
The speed at which a fine will turn into an arrest is as follows –
- Travelling at 30kms or more over the speed limit on a public road in an urban area
- Travelling at 40kms or more over the speed limit on a public road outside an urban area or on the freeway
What happens if I don’t Pay a Speeding Fine?
The penalty procedure for speeding is fairly straightforward and should be closely considered unless spending time in a prison cell is on your bucket list.
- Infringement Notice – After being caught speeding, a notice will be given to you by a traffic officer or sent to you via mail highlighting the infringement and attached fine.
- Courtesy Letter – If you fail to pay the speeding fine within 32 days notice will be sent as a reminder to either pay the fine or appear in court to plead your case.
- Enforcement Order – Once issued with an enforcement order, you have an additional 32 days to pay the fine. During this time any transport-related legal issues will be suspended. In other words, you will not be able to obtain or renew a driver’s license, vehicle license, etc.
- Warrant of execution – If you still fail to pay your fine, the sheriff will be given authority to deface your licenses, tow your vehicle and report you to the relevant authorities.
South Africa’s New Speeding System
Set to begin in July 2021, the country will enact a new system to deal with speeding and traffic-related infringements.
Instead of just fines, speeding violations in the coming years could include a demerit system to punish repeat offenders.
Basically, every time you commit an infringement, ranging from driving without a seatbelt to speeding, you can be fined and issued with a demerit point. If you collect enough of these points, you may have your license revoked entirely. Conversely, if you make it a couple of months without any infractions, some points may be subtracted from your record.
The details of this new system are still in flux but the penalties as they stand are as follows –
|Driving without a license
|Driving under the influence
|Determined in court
|Not stopping at a stop sign
|Not stopping at a red light
|R750 – R1250 or decided in court
Are Speeding Laws Necessary?
Many South Africans consider the current penalties for speeding to be somewhat excessive. No doubt then, when the new system is implemented there will be even more outcry over the necessity of such harsh rules.
The evidence, however, does suggest that speed limits do help in reducing fatalities in car accidents.
Studies suggest that a relatively small reduction in speed can result in a massive increase in the likelihood of survival following a collision.
- If, for example, a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle at a speed of 80km/h. The odds of Pedestrians dying is around 100%.
- If, though, the vehicle speed is reduced to 60km/h, the pedestrian’s chance of death is reduced to 70%.
- At 30km/h, the pedestrian’s likelihood of death is reduced down to a mere 7%.
- Likewise, the driver is 20 times more likely to survive an impact at 32km/h than one at 80km/h.
Can Music Affect your Driving?
If you have a speeding problem when you’re behind the wheel, it may be a good idea to listen to slower, more calming music while driving, or maybe even turn off the radio altogether.
A new study showed that drivers often drove faster and changed lanes twice as often when listening to hard rock with a high bpm.
In Conclusion – What are the Speed Limits of Roads in South Africa?
The speed limits throughout the country differ depending on the road and can only be verified by checking the relevant signs. Yet, there are averages that can be observed if you’re unsure. These are –
- 60km/h on public roads in urban areas
- 100km/h on public roads outside urban areas that are not freeways
- 120km/h on freeways
Any penalties incurred for driving over the speed limit will vary in terms of severity depending on how fast you were travelling and where the violation took place. For example, travelling over the speed limit on the freeway in good weather conditions will likely net you a small fine. Conversely, speeding through a residential area in torrential rain will most likely cost you more. A 10km/h speeding grace is usually allowed as this slight infringement can be chalked up to mechanical inaccuracies and issues with the vehicle.
The faster you go over the speed limit, the higher the fine will be, but keep in mind that at a certain point, excessive speeding changes from a fine to an arrest. Travelling at 30km/h over the limit in an urban area or at 40km/h over the limit outside one will most likely lead to you being arrested. A new speeding system will potentially be implemented in the coming months which may include harsher penalties as well as a demerit system to punish repeat offenders. If a driver gains too many demerits, they may have their license revoked.
Disclaimer LAW101: All of our posts are for research purposes only. Law 101 aims to assist its readers with useful information on the laws of our country that can guide you to make decisions in line with the South African Governmental Laws currently in place. Although in many instances, our posts cite the constitution, they are intended to assist readers who are looking to expand their knowledge of the law. Should you require specific legal advice we advise you to get in touch with a qualified legal expert.
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