Bumpy road ahead for Aarto

2011-06-11 17:31

Motorists have been threatened with the implementation of the ­Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act for the past two years, yet there is still no clear indication when – if ever – it will come into full effect.

According to the Aarto website, the act was enacted in 1998 and started with a “pilot phase” in Pretoria in June 2008 under the administration of the Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD).

Officers tried to implement some of the new Aarto infringements in the charge book.

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) was the second municipal district to adopt this system manually or via set-up cameras fining motorists for offences in November 2008.

However, the JMPD was fining motorists incorrectly by tripling the fine amounts and had to repay motorists, which meant it only managed to get the system off the ground in March 2009 when it finally got the correct charges in place.

The last provisional date set for national unveiling was April this year, yet this has been postponed until further notice.

When the demerit system is in place, each driver will start off with zero points on their licence. A maximum of 12 points can be accumulated.

Every point over 12 will mean a suspension of your licence for three months.

A single point, along with a fine, can be given out for an offence, such as failing to comply with a signal from a traffic officer.

Three points will be given to an unregistered or unlicensed vehicle. There are
2 056 possible charges listed in the charge book.

Once you incur 15 points, your driver’s licence will be suspended for nine months.

Points that have been accumulated reduce at a rate of one point for every three months, provided no further infringement notices have occurred.

A motoring expert from driving.co.za, Rob Handfield-Jones, says the concept of an administrative mechanism to deal with traffic offences dates back to the 1940s.

“It was first implemented in the US and Canada in the 1950s and the Automobile Association of South Africa first called for it to be implemented locally in 1961.

So it’s not a new idea and it has been bandied about by successive transport departments, both pre- and post-1994,” said Handfield-Jones.

He says the reason it has not yet been successful is because it’s a complex project that requires longer than the five-year term of a government to implement.

“Unfortunately, it has been handed over from one person and administration to the next over the past 20 years or so.

“One has only to look at progress since its official unveiling in 2008.

First, it was expected for full operation in 2009. Then it was 2010. Then it was April 1 2011. Now, it is the 2011/12 financial year, according to Ashref Ismail from the department of transport,” he says.

The Automobile Association of South Africa’s Gary Roland says several factors may be contributing to the delay.

Regulation issues and possibly eNatis system technicalities may also delay the process.

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