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The Road Freight Association (RFA) is working with all relevant role-players to ensure that the proposed Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) regulations are properly considered before implementation and that AARTO will achieve its main purpose of ensuring road safety – if implemented at all. This is according to the Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Gavin Kelly.
When the latest set of proposed regulations were published for public comment in October 2019, the RFA once again highlighted the pitfalls, weaknesses, severe risk to sustained business and nonsensical proposals that were being made, all in the name of ‘road safety’. Says Kelly: “The proposed regulations had vehicles being held ‘accountable’ for the behaviour of drivers (in some cases) or operator/owners in other cases. How do you change the behaviour of a vehicle?”
In its efforts to ensure that AARTO achieve its main objective ie. road safety, the RFA has been working closely with a number of organisations including the Department of Transport (DoT), the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and Justice Project South Africa (JPSA).
The AARTO Act was promulgated in 1998 with the sole aim of addressing bad (unsafe) behaviour on our roads, by implementing a demerit point system for drivers, vehicles and operators resulting in licences, permits and operator cards being suspended or cancelled.
“Fast forward to 2020 and, notwithstanding much interaction between the various government authorities tasked with implementing AARTO (DoT, the RTIA and the RTMC) and we are no closer to a reasonable and effective implementation of any kind,” says Kelly.
Kelly says that the RFA continues to advocate for a properly focused, resourced and pro-active road traffic policing strategy by all authorities concerned - not the currently proposed cumbersome and questionable point demerit system and all the costs linked to operating it. Proof of achieving better behaviour on the roads was loudly proclaimed by the Minister of Transport regarding the recent successes achieved in the December 2019 festive season traffic safety strategy.
“The RFA does not see how issuing points to vehicles will change the behaviour of people, but it will definitely go a long way to destroying both the resale value of vehicles, as well as the capex value within various businesses,” he continues. “The authorities need to focus on changing driver behaviour, rather than on a system aimed at collecting revenue to support an administrative system. The RFA supports interventions which serve to improve the safety of the country’s roads and reduce incidents, injuries and fatalities. One of the key priorities of the RFA is the safety of all drivers on our roads and we have no objection in principle to a demerit system applied to South African drivers.”
Many countries have successful driver systems with demerit points; However, these are all easy to use, fair, effective and not based on generating revenue at every point in the process. “The system must assist in improving driving standards, and thereby contribute to reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities,” adds Kelly.
He concludes: “The RFA believes that AARTO could be very effective if the proposed regulations were amended to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and costs. Demerit access systems have been successfully implemented in other countries. These systems have a fair fine re-direction process and no vehicle demerit points.”
The RFA will be offering a series of workshops on AARTO over the coming months.