Please note that since this book was last published in 1997 some of the laws that have been referenced may have changed. We
are doing our best to update the articles, however, it is advisable that you to consult an attorney before relying on any information contained herein.
A reckless driver is anyone 'who drives a vehicle in wilful or wanton disregard for the
safety of persons or property'.
The offence of reckless driving was summarised in the Appellate Division of the Supreme
Court in Rex v Fahamtsa (1941) as 'gross negligence or wilful disregard of the rights of
the road users'.
Motorists have been convicted of reckless driving because they:
- Cut in too soon after overtaking;
- Drove round a blind corner on the wrong side of the road;
- Overtook on the crest of a hill;
- Drove at speed too close to a group of children;
- Followed another vehicle too closely. If you see a car being recklessly driven, note the
vehicle's registration number and report the incident to the police. The more evidence
there is, the more likely the police are to act against the driver.
Note, however, that you may have to appear in court if the accused decides to fight the
Speeding does not necessarily amount to reckless driving, but might be if it is related
to other factors. For example, a motorist travelling at 130km/h along a straight freeway
would not normally be guilty of reckless driving (but liable, perhaps, to prosecution in
terms of speeding regulations). However, a motorist who drove at that speed in a narrow,
busy street used by many pedestrians in town, would be guilty of reckless driving.
Because reckless driving either contains an element of wilful aggression or involves
gross negligence, it is more sev-erely punished than driving negligently or without
reasonable consideration. On conviction, a fine of up to R12000 or three years'
imprisonment or both can be imposed for negligent driving. In the case of a conviction of
reckless driving, a fine of R24000 or imprisonment of up to six years, or both can be
imposed. Furthermore, the motorist's driving licence may be endorsed, cancelled, or
suspended. (See driving; reasonable
consideration, driving without.)