The Automobile Association (AA) of South Africa has said that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act is unworkable and geared towards revenue collection rather than promoting road safety.
Additionally, there is no evidence that the Aarto pilot project which launched in 2008 has “saved a single life”.
This follows the Aarto Act and Aarto Amendment Act being ruled unconstitutional in the Pretoria High Court.
“As early as a few months after the 2008 launch of the AARTO pilot project in the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metros, the shortcomings of the Act became clear in practice,” said the AA.
“Attempts to rectify these shortcomings only created further issues, and now a court has found that the Department of Transport, in drafting Aarto, did not consider the fundamental issue of whether the system passed constitutional muster.”
This has led to a vast waste of taxpayers’ money while South Africa’s high road death rate remains unaffected.
The AA said there is no point for the government to go back to the drawing board to try and salvage the Aarto.
“Aarto was assented to in 1998, and its design started much earlier. The court itself has found that the deficiencies are not curable. After almost a quarter of a century of failure, the government would be wise to concede defeat,” it said.
The AA’s stance on traffic infringements remains that these should be dealt with in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), with legislative amendments that would protect motorists in the case where delivery of fines and summonses were not concluded in accordance with the law.
The points-demerit system proposed by the Aarto could also be implemented as part of the judicial process, said the AA.
“This is how points-demerit has been implemented in other parts of the world for half a century or longer.”
“The AA itself called for such a system as long ago as 1963, and we would be willing to work with government to help create it, just as we have assisted in developing many other aspects of traffic law.”
Another major concern of the Aarto is the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), as it is a byproduct of the Aarto and would cease to exist should the Act be abandoned.
“For years the RTIA has acted outside all reasonable bounds. The Fines 4 U court case showed how the RTIA could abuse the conflicts of interest inherent in Aarto, and the RTIA’s recently-dismissed previous Chief Executive, Japh Chuwe, along with other senior managers, was implicated in serious maladministration,” said the AA.
“Aarto and the RTIA have added no value to road safety and merely provided secure and lucrative employment for a select few. As such, we welcome the court’s decision as a landmark in good governance in South Africa.”