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Motorists and businesses need to start preparing for South Africa’s new driving laws: experts

While concerns remain around the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Act, the new laws are set to be implemented on 1 July 2021, say motoring experts at the Road Safety Partnership (RSP).

The Aarto Act provides for a system whereby a person, operator or company juristic person pays the penalty and incurs points when a traffic infringement is committed.

The RSP said that it endorses the intent of Aarto, which is to improve driving behaviour and thus positively impact on road safety.

“While certain bodies continue to address areas of concerns, drivers should prepare for the implementation of Aarto nevertheless. Once concerns are resolved, Aarto has potential to positively impact road safety and the incidents of crashes on the roads,” it said

It said that considerable preparation is needed from all drivers, whether in their personal capacity or driving as a business or vocation. The RSP urged drivers to prepare in advance for the new laws.

“This includes familiarising themselves with the act, identifying the behaviours that are repeatedly penalised or which they know they are guilty of and determining what their company’s planned Aarto policy will be,” it said.

While many may feel some reluctance to accept the implementation of Aarto, it is unlikely it will not happen, it said.

“If motorists are prepared for the act, their concerns should be unfounded. If they take action now and change their own bad driving behaviours, Aarto can only have a limited impact on one, if any impact at all.

“It is habitual non-compliance that will allow Aarto to affect drivers. Critically address any non-compliance, even before the act comes into effect, and it will substantially limit the potential effect that Aarto can have.

“Whether the act is implemented as is, or addresses recent concerns, if all drivers were to prepare for Aarto, it would have a considerable impact on not only each person but the general state of road safety in South Africa as well,” said the RSP.

Demerit points 

Under the Aarto, demerit points are allocated to the operators and owners of motor vehicles. If a vehicle is suspended it may not be sold or used on a public road.

If an operator or juristic person does sell a vehicle or scrap or export such vehicle, the demerit points will remain against the record of the operator/juristic person and be allocated to the next vehicle the company purchases.

However, vehicles are not punished by the system – only the driver/juristic person is held responsible for the use of the vehicle.

The points will work as follows:

  • The offender/infringer receives a penalty, and in addition to the penalty, they also receive the demerit points allocated to the specific offence.
  • If the demerit points exceed the maximum points (15 points), a person will be disqualified from driving or using the vehicle for a period of time (three months for every point exceeding 15 points);
  • The points for the offences and infringements range between six and one;
  • The maximum for a person or operator card or a licence disc for a juristic person who is not an operator is 15 points;
  • The maximum for a learner driver is six points;
  • The time value of each point is three months for disqualification or reduction purposes;
  • If demerit points are allocated to a person or vehicle record and no further demerit points are accrued in three months after receiving the previous demerit point, a reduction of one point on the total number of demerit points will be recorded on the system.
  • A person’s driving licence card and the operator card of a motor vehicle must be handed in for the disqualification period;
  • Upon a third disqualification, the licences will be cancelled. A person must apply for a new learner’s licence and driving licence once the disqualification period is over.

Read: South Africa’s top 10 most sought-after used cars – with price and mileage

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