The new traffic fine system proposed by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) and administered via the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act is set to promote road safety and impose stricter rules on motorists by introducing a demerit point system that could lead to the suspension or cancellation of driving licences, operator cards or professional driving permits.
“It is estimated that more than 14 000 road users die on our roads every year and this intervention seeks to reduce the high number of fatalities, perhaps ultimately to a point where we get to zero,” says Monde Mkalipi, RTIA spokesperson.
“The bottom line is most of the fatalities emerge from the behaviour of the road users.”
Mkalipi adds: “Aarto is all about promoting good road user behaviour among motorists so that we can have less cases of fatalities that occur on our roads. That is the bottom line regarding the existence of this legislation.”
According to RTIA, the demerit point system will have each driver starting at zero demerit points on their driver’s licence, with the number of points accumulated depending on the nature of the traffic offence.
Failing to use indicators, for instance, will see a driver gain one demerit point and be given a R500 fine, while driving under the influence of alcohol will gain a driver six demerit points and take them to court.
Should a driver rack up 15 demerit points, their licence will be suspended for three months. A licence suspended more than twice will however face cancellation.
One demerit point will be scrapped for every three months of ‘good behaviour’ by the driver.
Mkalipi says that should an offender pay their traffic fine within the original 32-day notice period, they will be entitled to a 50% discount.
Motorists will also be allowed to dispute the fine by submitting relevant documentation to argue their case even beyond the designated notice period.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says it is challenging the new traffic system on the grounds that the intention of the Aarto legislation is to make money and not protect road users.
“Although Outa believes that measures to improve road safety and reduce fatalities are urgently needed, we do not believe that the Aarto legislation will achieve this,” says Andrea Korff, senior legal project manager at Outa.
“Aarto was rolled out in Gauteng 10 years ago and failed spectacularly.
“Statistics do not support the claim that it will lead to a reduction in fatalities on roads and therefore Outa vehemently believe that this system is merely a money-making scheme.”
Korff says Outa has taken the matter to court to constitutionally challenge the validity of the Aarto and Aarto Amendment Act. She says the matter will only be heard on October 18 and 19 October in the high court.
However, driver and vehicle licensing agency Fines SA believes the new Aarto system will make a big difference to the current lawlessness on SA’s roads, once fully implemented and understood by the public.
“The reason we believe this is a big step in the right direction is that in the past motorists have been able to avoid paying their fines as they believed there would be no ramifications,” says Fines SA CEO Barry Berman.
“Aarto enforcement orders encourage payment otherwise motorists are blocked on the eNaTIs [Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System] system, [which] will curb this misconception.
“There has to be a mindset change in SA and this is our best chance.”
Phase one of the trial of the new Aarto system came into effect in July, with phase two of the trial set to run until December.
RTIA expects that the system will officially fully come into effect once President Cyril Ramaphosa makes an official decree in the government gazette.
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.