The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) and its amendment Bill have shown no notable change to improving road safety in Gauteng since the pilot project kicked off in 2008, the Automobile Association (AA) says.
Aarto’s amendment Bill, which was approved by the National Assembly in September last year, is currently before the National Council of Provinces for final approval before it is signed into law.
One of the major amendments is the delayed driver points demerit system where each motorist will start with zero points and face a three-month licence suspension if they exceed 12 points.
While political parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and ANC welcomed the Bill in the belief it would reduce road fatalities, AA spokesperson Layton Beard said the points demerit system did not consider road safety.
In a briefing hosted by the National Press Club in Centurion yesterday, joined by the AA and Justice Project SA’s Howard Dembovsky, Beard told the media that since the Aarto’s piloting in 2008, there had been only a slow decline in fatal road accidents.
“There is no notable change in Gauteng. Between 2006 and 2016, there has been a 3% decline in fatal crashes.
“In terms of road safety, there are no demerit points if you do not wear a seatbelt, but two demerit points for going over a barrier line, which is one of the causes of road crashes.
“The Bill should look at these types of acts when it comes to road safety, but unfortunately it doesn’t,” he said.
Dembovsky accused Aarto and its amendment Bill of violating motorists’ constitutional rights as it adopted the concept of “guilty until proven innocent”, while wanting to take over the authority of prosecuting road offenders.
“The real purpose of Aarto is to migrate the prosecution of road traffic offences, for which an admission of guilt fine may be paid, from the Criminal Procedure Act and the judicial authority of the courts, to an administrative scheme, orchestrated by a far-from-independent state-owned enterprise funded almost entirely by traffic fines,” said Dembovsky.
He encouraged motorists to take part in public hearings on the Bill’s amendments, which are under way in the Western Cape and Free State.