The AA said Aarto was a vast waste of taxpayers' money which had done nothing to remedy SA's shocking road death rate. Picture: SUPPLIED
The AA said Aarto was a vast waste of taxpayers' money which had done nothing to remedy SA's shocking road death rate. Picture: SUPPLIED

After almost a quarter of a century of failure, the government would be wise to concede defeat on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto), says the AA.

The association was responding to the January 13 Pretoria high court ruling declaring the Aarto Act invalid and unconstitutional, putting the brakes on the transport ministry's proposed driving licence points-demerit system.

The AA has been a strong critic of Aarto, which has been on the drawing board since 1998, and welcomed Judge Annali Basson’s judgment that the act and its amendments are unconstitutional.

The judge found in favour of civil rights action group Outa, which challenged Aarto’s constitutional validity.

The AA says the judgment vindicates its position that Aarto was geared towards revenue collection instead of promoting road safety, and was a vast waste of taxpayers’ money which had done nothing to remedy SA's shocking road death rate.

As early as a few months after the 2008 launch of the Aarto pilot project in Johannesburg and Tshwane, the shortcomings of the Act became clear in practice, says the AA.

“There is no evidence that the Aarto pilot project has saved a single life,” says the AA, adding that no purpose could be served by going back to the drawing board.

The association said traffic fines should be dealt with in terms of the existing Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), to which a point-demerit system could be added.

“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,” notes the Association.

The AA says that the Road Traffic Infringement Authority (RTIA), which administers Aarto, should automatically cease to exist as for years the authority has acted outside of all reasonable bounds.

It gave as an example the 2017 court case where Fines4U and Audi Centre Johannesburg took legal action against the RTIA for not following the correct procedure when collecting traffic fines, with the court making the RTIA reverse thousands of fines issued in Gauteng.

“The Fines 4 U court case showed how the RTIA could abuse the conflicts of interest inherent in Aarto, and the RTIAs recently-dismissed previous CEO, Japh Chuwe, along with other senior managers, was implicated in serious maladministration,” the AA adds.

It is not known whether transport minister Fikile Mbalula will appeal against the ruling, or how the ruling will affect the operation of Aarto in Johannesburg and Tshwane, as the transport department did not respond to requests for comment.

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