National Assembly gives Aarto Bill green light

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Bill that is expected to introduce a demerit system that will see serial traffic offenders losing their driver’s licences has been given the thumbs-up by the National Assembly. 

The Bill was introduced to Parliament to amend the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act of 1998.

After a vote, 225 MPs voted in favour of the Bill being sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. Eighty-eight MPs rejected it, while no MPs abstained.

Leading a debate on the Bill prior to the vote, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said the Bill was being introduced to improve driver behaviour at the back of an alarming increase of carnage on South Africa’s roads.

When the Minister released the Easter weekend road deaths statistics a few months ago, he said the total number of deaths had risen by 51% - from 156 over the same period in 2016, to 235 in 2017.

“The tabling of this Bill is a direct result of the untenable and unsustainable road safety situation in our country. We are experiencing a tremendous loss of lives, especially of young people, as well as the continued breakdown of road traffic laws,” he said.

The Minister said over the past three years, the road safety situation has been badly impacted, a situation that cannot be allowed to continue.

He said South Africa needs to urgently act with a determined commitment to change the road safety situation. He said the Aarto Act, which has been piloted in Tshwane and Johannesburg, seeks to:

  • promote road traffic quality by providing for a scheme to discourage road traffic rules contraventions;

  • facilitate the adjudication of road traffic infringement to support the prosecution of offences in terms of the national and provincial laws relating to road traffic, and

  • implement the demerit points system and provide for an establishment of an agency to administer the scheme.

Minister Maswanganyi said the amendment Bill will further pave the way for the administration of the demerit points system; the establishment of the rehabilitation programme for offenders; the establishment of the Infringements Appeals Tribunal in order to empower any road user to attend to any issues related to offences and to introduce the serving of documents through electronic means.

“When we implement Aarto nationally, we will also implement the demerit points system. The point demerit system provides for an easy and objective mechanism of identifying habitual infringers so that the applicable penalties can be effected on them.

“Those that continue to break the law will find themselves ultimately losing their driving licenses through suspensions and cancellations.

“We must remember that the driving licence always belongs to government. Furthermore, Aarto does not only provide for punitive measures, it is a forgiving system in that it provides for the rehabilitation of drivers.

“Those drivers, who would have lost their driving licences, can be redeemed through the rehabilitation programmes. In this way, we then influence those drivers to change their behaviour to [comply with] road traffic laws,” he said.

The Minister said the Bill will make provision for the electric service of documents, which makes it easier for all road users to be informed of their status of infringements.

“It further ensures that the service of documents is effected at the lowest cost,” he said. –

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