New Road Rules Act (AARTO) with Demerit System Set to Save Lives in South Africa
New Road Rules Act (AARTO) with Demerit System Set to Save Lives in South Africa. Photo: Pixabay

South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula today emphasised that the phased rollout of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act, has been introduced to save lives on the roads.

The first phase of the rollout began today, 01 July 2021, and runs to 30 September 2021.

“We have made a commitment to arresting the carnage on our roads and committed to re-imagine our approach to road safety and making sure our people arrive alive when using our roads,” the Minister said at a media briefing on Thursday.

In the medium term, the government has allocated R545 million to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) to fund the rollout of the Act, of which R215 million has been allocated for the current financial year.

The phased rollout of the Act will culminate with the Points Demerit System, used successfully in other countries, whereby demerit points will be allocated for specific transgressions by road users.

Mbalula said “common penalties are being introduced for all traffic violations throughout the country and will carry the same penal values. Electronic service will begin in earnest, which means that law enforcement can be effectively supported by technology, servicing documents by electronic means, such as e-mail,” the Minister said.

Infringers will be able to appeal rulings at an Independent Appeals Tribunal.

The aim is not just about punishment, but ensuring compliance and a change in road user behaviour, said Mbalula.

Habitual infringers, who have their licenses cancelled, will be able to attend rehabilitation programmes “before being allowed back in the driving fold”, said the Minister.

Phased approach

The first phase – with public awareness campaigns – is intended to increase the footprint of the RTIA nationally, through seven AARTO service outlets and online services such as the AARTO website and the AARTO mobile application.

The second phase of the rollout will commence from 01 October 2021 to 31 December 2021, and will see 67 local and metropolitan municipal areas coming online with the AARTO process. The Adjudication Process and Appeals Tribunal will be set in motion during this phase, said the Minister, thus reducing the burden on courts.

The third phase will run from 01 January 2022 to 30 June 2022. This phase will be characterised by the coming on board of the remaining 144 local municipal areas as proclaimed.

The fourth phase will wrap up the entire implementation of AARTO in 01 July 2022 when the Points Demerit System and Driver Rehabilitation Programmes will be introduced.

“By the time we reach this milestone, there will be no excuse among our road users that they do not understand the implications and consequences of the AARTO process. Schedule 3 of the AARTO Regulations will provide for a comprehensive list of demerit points allocated for every identified infringement or offence.

“The threshold level of demerit points is 15 points. Upon exceeding the threshold mark, one’s driving license gets suspended for a period of three months for every point that the threshold has been exceeded. The reduction is one point for every three months that a motorist remains violation-free,” the Minister said.

The Act is set to reduce the high rate of non-compliance to traffic laws and to inculcate a new habit of voluntary compliance to road traffic laws. –