Concerns over draft Aarto regulations

There seems to widespread dissatisfaction with the draft regulations of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act, in short known as Aarto, that could have severe consequences for road users if accepted in its current form.

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Two organisations involved in this field – the Automobile Association (AA) and the Justice Project South Africa – have raised serious concerns about the proposed legislation.

The Aarto system will use a demerit points system for traffic violations that could see drivers losing their licences as well as paying hefty fines for infringements.

According to the AA, the draft regulations make a mockery of the claim that the law is intended to improve road safety in South Africa, and rather point to the creation of a mechanism to improve revenue collection.

The AA prepared a comprehensive document with comments and suggestions on several issues in the regulations. This must be submitted within the 60-day period allowed for it before the regulations are gazetted. Any member of the public can also comment on the draft regulations (details below).

The JPSA and its head, Howard Dembovsky, in his personal capacity as a motorist, publicly endorse the submission regarding the latest draft Aarto regulations made by the AA.

“The latest draft regulations confirm everything that the JPSA and I have been saying for over a decade regarding the blatant commercialisation of traffic fines, and the AA has now hit the nail on the head,” said Dembovsky.

“From the enormous increases in the fines and the administrative fees payable, to numerous new obstacles that are to be put in the way of a motorist who wishes to prove his or her innocence; these draft regulations make it clear that money and not justice or road safety is the primary focus of the Aarto Act,” he lamented.

Some of the issues the AA highlighted in a press release include the aspects like the R100 Infringement Penalty Levy (IPL) charged in addition to the fine amount on every infringement notice issued. The AA says this levy will extract a billion rand per ten million infringement notices issued, for functions already being performed by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA).

“This is a disproportionate, sweeping and unjust draft regulation and is similar to having someone pay a fee to submit their tax returns; it’s an ultimately unfair surcharge for a function that is already paid for through traffic fine revenue. It is also not clear whether this amount will be repaid if a successful representation is made to cancel the entire fine,” according to the AA.

Another area that the AA believes infringes on citizens’ rights is the removal of the requirement to have detailed information to appear on infringement notices, the return to the use of ordinary mail to send some infringement notices, and the proposal for authorities to have 60 instead of 40 days to send infringement notices after an infringement has allegedly taken place.

The AA says that people have a right to know how they infringed in a detailed manner that is now done away with. It says people have a right to the swift administration of justice.

"The original architects of Aarto took note of the problems with postal delivery of traffic fines and realised that registered mail achieves reliable service of these notices. The return to ordinary mail is regressive and inexplicable, and these changes combine to create the impression that the current draft regulations have not been thought through carefully enough," the AA says.

"In our view, the Department of Transport must feel the pressure of public opinion to put road safety ahead of revenue collection. Having completed a study of the draft regulations, we will be making a detailed submission ahead of the deadline.

“We urge the public, transport specialists, and traffic attorneys to make their own submissions, or to view and support our submission at https://www.aa.co.za/aarto-submissions to ensure a successful system of managing and deterring traffic violations is implemented," the Association concludes.

Also have a look at the JPSA position and standpoint around Aarto and support for the AA submission at https://www.jp-sa.org/jpsa-and-its-head-fully-endorse-the-aas-aarto-regulations-submission/

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  • 23 November 2020