At the beginning of September, the National Assembly officially passed the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO), bringing with it the new demerit system.
While it’s not known when exactly the new laws will come into effect, recent talk suggests that they will be fully implemented by 2018, said Eugene Herbert, MD of Masterdrive.
As a result Herbert suggested that drivers begin brushing up on their driving skills.
“The system is not merely meant to punish law breakers, but change driver behaviour all together. South Africa has a culture of drivers who push the boundaries,” he said.
“Punishments are not severe enough to create any real fear of the consequences. Now drivers need to break these habits and place more importance on safe and responsible driving.”
Each person starts with a zero balance, with points being added every time you are caught committing a traffic offence, and depending on how serious the offence is.
Once you have 13 points your license is suspended for three months. For every three offence-free months, one point is deducted from your balance.
If your license is suspended three times, it can be cancelled.
Where does this leave businesses?
AARTO can have serious ramifications on businesses, said Herbert.
“Harsher consequences for traffic offences mean harsher consequences for your business. If a driver is suspended they cannot drive for you anymore leaving you to source and train new drivers.”
Additionally, if the driver accumulates points in their private capacity it will affect your business operations as well, he said.
“Business owners need to also be aware that the owner of the vehicle is held responsible for demerits unless you notify RTIA that someone else was driving. This also creates a larger administrative burden and requires changes to employment contracts.”
Businesses, particularly, should be preparing for it before implementation, said Herbert.
“A substantial amount of administration requirements need to be in place before implementation to protect your fleets.”