MOTORING NEWS - Early in March the National Assembly passed the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences bill, commonly known as Aarto, and since then the bill has been waiting patiently on President Cyril Ramaphosa's desk to be signed into law.
The bill has come under a lot of fire, also from the Automobile Association (AA), even though the association is in favour of a demerit system designed to penalise frequent road traffic offenders through a point system.
If Aarto is implemented, drivers are allowed a maximum of 12 points against their names. Anything over 12 and you lose your licence for three months. After three license suspensions, your licence is revoked. The AA says it seems to be geared more towards revenue collection than dealing with road safety as the penalties imposed for not wearing a safety belt are the same as for an unregistered vehicle.
"In our view not wearing a seatbelt should carry a much stiffer monetary punishment and accompanying high value points demerit. If making our roads safer is the objective, let's start here," the AA says.
Another concern is whether the issuing of fines via electronic mail is in line with the constitution.
The AA is also worried about fair adjudication. Should a driver challenge an alleged traffic violation, the body who must decide the validity of the challenge, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), is also reliant on the revenue from fines for its own existence.
The AA also mentions the burden the amended Aarto will place on fleet owners, as the demerit points will go against the owners' names.
The association says while Aarto was tested in Johannesburg and Tshwane, fatal road crashes in these metros have increased, making it clear that safety is not taking priority in the amended bill. "There must be increased investment and focus on providing appropriately resourced and deployed traffic law enforcement around the country."
Last year September, the Western Cape provincial parliament rejected the revised bill and called on the national assembly to follow suit. This was however in vain and now, Ramaphosa or whoever is inaugurated on 25 May, is the only person who can save South African drivers from Aarto and its potentially nasty side-effects.
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