New road laws hit next month in South Africa – these questions still need to be answered

The planned roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) is scheduled for national implementation on 1 July 2021, but the Automobile Association (AA) says too many questions remain unanswered.

The association said among the issues which have not been clarified is whether or not motorists will, from 1 July, be receiving Aarto infringement notices, or if they’ll still be receiving the standard fines, as is the case currently.

The AA noted that the last public pronouncement on Aarto was on 19 May 2021 when the director-general of the Department of Transport, Alec Moemi, briefed the National Council of Province’s Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure about the Department of Transport’s Annual Performance Plan.

During that briefing, Moemi said Phase 1 of Aarto would commence on 1 July.

According to him this phase entails “setting up the registry and all requirements, ultimately working towards the introduction of a demerit system. There are five phases for the rollout process”.

“We are, however, unclear as to what this exactly means, or if this means Aarto will be implemented come 1 July at all.

“Communication on the roll-out of Aarto appears to be happening in the media with the Department of Transport not speaking on the matter at all,” the association said.

“All of this is creating huge confusion among motorists throughout the country who are unsure if the legislation is or is not coming into force next month.”

Also of concern is that no timeframes have been listed for the completion of Phase 1, what the other Phases of the roll-out entail, and what timeframes have been set for their initiation and completion, it said.

“Within this context motorists are being told that Aarto will be ‘implemented’ on 1 July, with few people, if any, any wiser as to precisely what’s going to happen.

“Not only is this unfair on motorists, but it again casts doubt over the RTIA’s ability to effectively implement the system once it actually becomes law,” the AA said.

It said that it’s incumbent upon the government – specifically the Department of Transport – to inform the public of exactly what is happening with the roll-out Aarto, how it will impact on them from 1 July, and what the timeframes for the implementation of the other phases of Aarto are, along with the details of what these phases entail.

Moemi said in a briefing in parliament in May that the act will not be introduced all at once, but rather over five different stages.

He said that the first phase will entail setting up the registry and other requirements, with the ultimate goal of working towards the introduction of a demerit system.

The Aarto 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.


Read: New road laws will hit South Africa in July – but the demerit system will come later

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New road laws hit next month in South Africa – these questions still need to be answered