The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) has noted with great concern the misleading media reports linking the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act to the implementation of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme’s (GFIP) e-tolls, and touting it as a bullying tactic to force motorists into paying e-tolls. This misleading information is disingenuous as the AARTO is not intended to be used for the purposes alleged
It is public knowledge that the President established a Task Team headed by Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula to craft solutions related to the operations of the GFIP. The so-called experts are behaving like prophets of doom, claiming amongst others, that the AARTO bypasses “normal traffic legislation and tackle offenders in ways which many view as unconstitutional because they deprive citizens of their right to a fair judicial process”.
As for the AARTO, there is nothing unconstitutional with respect to how it is developed and how it will work. In fact, the AARTO provides even more protection to infringers to exercise their rights. Firstly, the AARTO decriminalises the majority of traffic violations so that they are dealt with administratively. This means that one will not attract a criminal record for committing a traffic infringement, whereas being found guilty of the same infringement in the courts, can result in a criminal record.
The AARTO Act is primarily designed to promote compliance which will result in safety on our roads. The law is developed against the backdrop of around 14 000 road users dying on our road network every year. Some of the road crashes and fatalities occur due to lack of recourse on habitual infringers. AARTO, through its provisions such as the Points Demerit System, will track and remove repeat infringers from our road network. Furthermore, the AARTO provides two layers of protection to infringers/motorists, by virtue of two separate and independent structures, being the RTIA and the Infringement Appeals Tribunal.
It should be emphasised that Government had expressed its intent to remove the allocation of demerit points to an infringement arising from non-compliance with the road traffic sign that directs the operation of a tolled road. The draft AARTO Regulations (charge codes 3820 and 3821) clearly spelling this provision were published in Government Gazette No. 39482 of 7 December 2015. The Gazette is available on the RTIA website, www.rtia.co.za and on the Government Printing Works website, www.gpwonline.co.za. The RTIA and the Department of Transport are in the process of finalising the supporting regulations and will be publishing them in the near future.
The RTIA calls upon all South Africans to embrace the recently approved AARTO Act. The law has noble intentions and it is expected to result in positive behavioural change. As indicated, it is only fair and descent to allow the Minister an opportunity to pronounce on the solution being devised regarding the GFIP, which announcement is expected soon.