Demerit system can change SA drivers' behaviour - expert

2016-09-06 17:10
Driving. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Driving. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The implementation of a demerit point system for driving offences would help change South Africa's driving culture for the better, Parliament's portfolio committee on transport has heard.

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill would change the traffic department's ability to charge offenders, transport law expert Alta Swanepoel told the committee on Tuesday.

"AARTO can be a very effective system and is designed to handle charging people in large volumes," Swanepoel said.

"Our criminal system is not working for bulk charge of traffic offenders. The existing system is not designed to manage 400 or 500 per court roll, per day.

"AARTO can address this and a demerit point system will assist with changing driving behaviour," Swanepoel added.

The committee sat on Tuesday to hear public submissions to the draft AARTO Amendment Bill.

Centralised system

Swanepoel said the core of the bill would be to create one centralised mechanism to monitor and charge road traffic offences.

The system is currently "fragmented", she said. Wording and definitions of the bill would also need to be tightened.

The new bill would include charging offenders driving foreign-owned cars, she said, adding that South Africa's laws lagged behind those of its SADC neighbours in this regard.

"If you're found guilty of a traffic offence in many of our neighbouring countries, you get charged immediately.

"Our legislation would not be doing anything different to other countries in the region."

In answering an MP's question, Swanepoel said if offenders were not formally charged within 40 days, the charge would fall away to clear up backlog.

The committee was also expected to hear from financiers SA Taxi, IT project specialists Tasima and the Justice Project SA on Tuesday.

Read more on:    transport  |  parliament 2016

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