The City of Cape Town “has raised serious concerns” about South Africa’s new road laws which form part the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto).
Aarto is due to come into effect on 1 July, and brings several changes to driving rules in the country – including the enforcement of a driver demerit system.
Under the new system, drivers will be given demerit points when they break traffic rules – with a set amount of demerit points allocated depending on the severity of the offence.
“It will also be responsible for the administration, collection, and adjudication of fines related to road traffic offences,” said the City of Cape Town.
It stated that while Aarto’s claimed objective is to reduce road fatalities, this “does not appear to be achieved in the province where this was piloted”.
Aarto was first piloted in Gauteng.
The City is therefore considering its options to challenge the implementation of Aarto.
“We believe it is ineffective in reducing road fatalities. The other objection would be related to the powers of law enforcement where Aarto legislation appears to conflict with local government’s mandate as far as it relates to traffic and parking,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
The City went on to provide an example of this “ineffectiveness” by comparing the number of fatal crashes in the Western Cape versus Gauteng.
“In a comparison of fatal crashes, the Western Cape has a consistent and significantly lower number than Gauteng. This is based on data from annual traffic reports provided by the Road Traffic Management Corporation, which is the lead road safety agency in the country.”
For example: In 2019 – the most recent year provided by the City of Cape Town – the Western Cape had 1,013 fatal crashes compared to 2,180 in Gauteng.
“When we look at the numbers, Gauteng generally has double the number of fatal crashes whereas in the Western Cape, fatal crashes appear to be decreasing.”
“In addition, Aarto should include all aspects of unsafe driving, instead of focusing on those infringements, which are already covered by traffic law.”
Smith stated the City of Cape Town in considering its options to challenge the regulations, and this “does not exclude the possibility of legal action”.