Still no sign of de­merit sys­tem

De­lay ‘do­ing more harm than good’

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - — Sup­plied.

AFTER years of pi­lot projects, the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ad­ju­di­ca­tion of Road Traf­fic Of­fences (Aarto) was ex­pected to be im­ple­mented from April 1 this year.

How­ever, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this sys­tem has again been de­layed, a de­lay that is do­ing more harm than good, the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA) said.

Orig­i­nally, the sys­tem was to be im­ple­mented in 2011, but this was de­layed in­def­i­nitely. A new im­ple­men­ta­tion date of April 2012 was sug­gested but again this was de­layed.

In 2015, Deputy Trans­port Min­is­ter Sin­disiwe Chikunga an­nounced that Aarto would be im­ple­mented in April 2016, but this date has also slipped past qui­etly.

“Since 1998, a lot of time, ef­fort and money has gone into de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing Aarto. De­spite this, we still don’t have a work­able sys­tem, which is lam­en­ta­ble,” the AA said.

A key ob­jec­tive for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Aarto is to ef­fect be­havioural change among driv­ers in or­der to curb the grow­ing num­ber of deaths on our roads.

Ac­cord­ing to the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (RTMC), about 13 000 peo­ple died on the coun­try’s roads last year alone. “We be­lieve that ac­tion needs to be taken sooner, rather than later, to deal with this cri­sis,” the AA said.

The AA has sup­ported many of the pro­pos­als re­lat­ing to Aarto since they were first mooted in 1998, through the es­tab­lish­ment of the Road Traf­fic In­fringe­ment Agency (RTIA), which was cre­ated specif­i­cally to roll out and ad­min­is­ter Aarto.

Apart from cre­at­ing the RTIA, the legislation on Aarto also: • es­tab­lished the con­cept of an “in­fringe­ment” as a traf­fic vi­o­la­tion which can be dealt with ad­min­is­tra­tively (such as speed­ing or talk­ing on your cell­phone while driv­ing), as op­posed to an “of­fence”, which re­mains a crim­i­nal of­fence (such as drunk driv­ing, which is in­dis­tin­guish­able from any other crim­i­nal of­fence, and which re­quires a court ap­pear­ance); and • pro­vided for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a points de­merit sys­tem which pun­ishes re­peated vi­o­la­tions by sus­pend­ing or can­celling a mo­torist’s driv­ing li­cence.

Ac­cord­ing to the RTIA, the sys­tem will mean driv­ers ac­cu­mu­late points for in­fringe­ments they com­mit.

Ev­ery per­son starts with zero points, and the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble num­ber of points is 12. A per­son is al­lowed to drive un­til he or she has 12 points.

Ev­ery point ex­ceed­ing 12 points re­sults in a three-month sus­pen­sion of the li­cence. One point is re­duced ev­ery three months if no fur­ther con­tra­ven­tions oc­cur. A li­cence is can­celled when it has been sus­pended for the third time.

Aarto has been pi­loted in Tsh­wane since 2008, and Jo­han­nes­burg since 2009, but the points de­merit sys­tem has not been im­ple­mented. This will not hap­pen un­til Aarto is im­ple­mented na­tion­ally.

How­ever, the de­lays are cause for great con­cern, and will ul­ti­mately lead to the per­pet­u­a­tion of road of­fences which Aarto is de­signed to ad­dress. Among the rea­sons for these de­lays are is­sues re­lat­ing to the de­liv­ery of in­fringe­ment no­tices.

While this still needs to be re­solved, the act does al­low for in­fringe­ment no­tices to be de­liv­ered via reg­is­tered post and as such can be im­ple­mented at any time.

In its 2014/2015 an­nual re­port, the RTIA said that cer­tain as­pects of the Aarto Act are un­der­go­ing a par­lia­men­tary process but that the De­part­ment of Trans­port en­vis­aged these to be com­plete by the end of the fourth quar­ter of the 2015/2016 fi­nan­cial year. This has not hap­pened.

The AA said: “We be­lieve the time has come for hard de­ci­sions on the fu­ture of Aarto to be made. Our con­cern is that al­most two decades after it was first pro­posed, no sig­nif­i­cant steps for­ward have been taken to­wards fi­nal im­ple­men­ta­tion of the de­merit sys­tem. We there­fore call on the De­part­ment of Trans­port to give South Africans a firm and con­crete date for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Aarto, and to stick to it. Their cred­i­bil­ity, and that of the sys­tem as a whole, is now at stake.

“As much as we want to see the RTIA, and the Aarto sys­tem suc­ceed and go ahead, this state of in­ac­tiv­ity on Aarto’s im­ple­men­ta­tion is serv­ing no pur­pose.

“We there­fore urge the De­part­ment of Trans­port to take sig­nif­i­cant steps to en­sure the sys­tem is im­ple­mented, or con­cede to the pub­lic that it prob­a­bly will never ma­te­ri­alise.”

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