South Africa’s new driving demerit system faces delays

The Department of Transport says that the rollout of the Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act is on target – however, there is less clarity around when the country’s new driving demerit system will be introduced.

The Aarto and combined demerit system will penalise drivers and fleet operators who are guilty of traffic offences or infringements by imposing demerit points that could lead to the suspension or cancellation of licences, professional driving permits or operator cards.

It will also encourage the payment of fines and reduce the burden on South African courts, by removing the initial option to elect to appear in court.

The number of points incurred will be dependent on the nature of the traffic offence or charge. Currently, there are over 2,500 separate charges.

The department told BusinessTech that the target of 1 July 2021 for the Aarto still stands, but the rollout as a whole – including the demerit system – is reliant on several different government bodies.

“It would be remiss not to mention that the roll out is reliant on a number of outside parties,” it said. “(This includes) the South African Post Office (SAPO) and Government Printing Works (GPW).”

The department also cited concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic ‘still in our midst’, which could lead to delays in the implementation of the demerit system.

The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) has previously warned that the Covid-19 pandemic and reliance on third parties could lead to administrative issues with the rollout of the demerit system.

The agency said that the planned system is heavily reliant on a number of outside parties, including the Department of Transport and the South African Post Office, and that any compromised state of readiness may expose it to litigation.

For the new system to work, the RTIA said that it needs for all of the following to be in place:

  • The Aarto Act prescribes collaborating with the South African Post Office in discharging Aarto responsibilities.
  • The administration of the Aarto value chain is further dependent on the NCR which is administered by the Road Traffic Management Corporation.
  • A further reliance is on the Department of Transport to support the Presidency in the establishment of the Appeals Tribunal.
  • The Government Printing Works is responsible for printing the Aarto notice books.

“The certainty on the state of readiness by all external stakeholders remains a challenge and out of the control of the RTIA,” it said.


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South Africa’s new driving demerit system faces delays