Given the controversy surrounding the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences act (AARTO), which came into effect on July 1, the Transport Department has sought to clarify some of the issues relating to its implementation, while also announcing a ‘phased-in’ approach for the new system. This theoretically means that the actual demerit points system will only come on stream in July 2022.
To that effect, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced that AARTO will be rolled out in four phases:
Phase 1 (1 July to 30 September 2021)
Seven AARTO service outlets will be established nationally, the eNATIS will be enabled to collect AARTO payments, and will include a communications campaign to educate motorists on AARTO.
Phase 2 (1 October to 31 December 2021)
67 local metropolitan authorities will ‘come online’ for AARTO processing, the adjudication process and Appeals Tribunal will start functioning, 18 more AARTO service outlets will be established.
Phase 3 (1 January 2022 to 30 June 2022)
144 municipal areas will be added to the AARTO system.
Phase 4 (1 July 2022 onwards)
This will see the introduction of the Points Demerit System as well as the rehabilitation programme for repeat offenders which serves as the backbone of AARTO.
Regulations still need to be finalised
The transport department has given several reasons for the delay in AARTO’s implementation, including the suspension of RTIA senior managers for maladministration and the impact of COVID-19. However, the Automobile Association believes that the latest communication should have happened weeks ago as many people had believed AARTO was being fully enacted from 1 July.
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The association said that even though we now have something of a “roadmap” going forward, much of it relies on the finalisation of the regulations, much must happen before any meaningful roll-out can occur.
“South Africa’s annual road fatality rates are among the highest in the world per capita and amount to a national crisis. Legislation such as AARTO can only assist in reducing these numbers if there is proper implementation and effective law enforcement that supports it.
“For us, more attention must be given to the root causes of poor road safety, rather than simply introducing a system without consideration of the capacity of traffic law enforcement and other state services to implement it. Doing this will also speed up the process of achieving better road safety in our country,” the AA concluded.
Here’s what you’ll lose points for
Once the AARTO demerit system has been implemented in July 2022, motorists will lose points for infringements. Driving at 89-90 km/h in a 60 km/h zone will attract five points, for example, while reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol will result in six points being docked. Motorists will also lose six points for failing to licence a vehicle. Skipping a red traffic light, however, is only worth two points.
Once the demerit system is implemented, each driver will start with zero points, but points will be added with each infringement. Motorists who reach 15 points will have their driver’s licence suspended for three months.