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Fikile Mbalula says Aarto provides disincentives for poor driving behaviour. Picture: TWITTER
Fikile Mbalula says Aarto provides disincentives for poor driving behaviour. Picture: TWITTER

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula will appeal against last week’s high court ruling that put the brakes on the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and its driving licence points-demerit system.

The Aarto Act was a deterrent to bad behaviour on SA’s roads, he said in response to the January 13 Pretoria high court ruling declaring the Aarto Act invalid and unconstitutional.

The judge found in favour of civil rights action group Outa, which challenged Aarto’s constitutional validity. Outa and the Automobile Association (AA) have criticised Aarto for being geared towards revenue collection instead of promoting road safety, with the AA saying it was a vast waste of taxpayers’ money that had done nothing to remedy SA’s shocking road death rate.

Speaking at the release of the festive season road fatalities figures at Grasmere toll plaza on Tuesday, Mbalula said: “The importance of Aarto in driving behaviour change of motorists and providing disincentives for unbecoming conduct cannot be overemphasised. It is for this reason that we have decided to appeal against the ruling of the Pretoria high court.”

He said parliament was also currently seized with the proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act, to reduce the permissible alcohol limit for motorists.

“This is before parliament, and we believe this is an important element in our efforts to arrest the scourge of fatalities on our roads,” he said.

Mbalula said that 1,685 people died on roads in the past festive season, a 14% increase over the previous year. This was partly attributable to there being more vehicles on the road than in the 2020/2021 festive season when there more severe lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic.

Road fatalities increased in seven provinces and declined in two: the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

In the 42-day Arrive Alive campaign from December 1 to January 11, traffic officers conducted 651 roadblocks throughout the country and issued 264,690 fines for traffic offences. Of those, 21,431 were for drivers who failed to wear seat belts while 22,766 were for people driving without licences.

Enforcement placed great emphasis on speed reduction, seat belt compliance, drunk driving, pedestrian safety and patrolling dangerous routes at times when dangerous conditions were prevalent.

He said the main causes of road fatalities over this period were jaywalking, speeding, wet or slippery road surfaces, overtaking across barrier lines and poor visibility. Human factors contributed 79% to the occurrences of fatal crashes while road factors contributed 11% and vehicle factors 10%.

The driver with the highest alcohol level — 2.43mg — was arrested in Johannesburg on December 22. There were 605 drivers arrested for driving at excessive speeds of between 190km/h and 220km/h.

To clamp down on drunken driving and other moving violations, officers arrested 6,169 motorists and 1,586 of these were for drunken driving.

A total of 4,251 unroadworthy vehicles were discontinued and 4,073 were impounded.

Nationally, pedestrians decreased from 41% of the overall fatalities to 31%.

Provincial statistics

Over the past festive season, the Eastern Cape recorded the largest decline in fatalities — 7.9% from 228 to 210 fatalities.

KwaZulu-Natal recorded a 6.5% decline in fatalities to 275 from to 294 in the same period in 2021.

The Northern Cape recorded the highest increase, up 97% from 33 to 65 fatalities.

The Western Cape recorded a 55.6% increase, from 133 to 207 fatalities.

Limpopo recorded a 16.5% increase from 194 to 226 fatalities.

Gauteng recorded a 15.5% increase from 238 fatalities to 275.

The Free state recorded a 7.2% increase from 111 to 119 fatalities.

The North West recorded a 25.3% increase from 95 to 119 fatalities.

Mpumalanga recorded a 24.3% increase from 152 to 189 fatalities.

droppad@arena.co.za

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