AARTO, tested as a pilot project in Johannesburg, has failed so badly that none of the other provinces want this to be rolled out nationally. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

With the e-tolling battle raging on, it's all too easy to forget about another important piece of road regulation that affects local road users.

The Administration and Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto for short) was hailed as one of the government's major weapons in reducing accident levels on South African roads. Unfortunately it's becoming another example of the idea being better than the implementation, according to the Automobile Association.

Aarto has only been implemented in Johannesburg and Pretoria and is still in its pilot phase, and also still excludes the points-demerit system. The rest of South Africa has not been affected and it is not expected to be expanded for some time.

It was established for law enforcement officers to deal effectively and quickly with infringements of road rules and was intended to alleviate the pressure on the courts by penalising drivers and operators guilty of infringements through a demerit point system.

The more offences you commit, the more points you lose.

Regular offences could lead to the suspension - and possibly even the cancellation - of your driving licence. It was also designed to reward law-abiding behaviour by reducing demerit points if no offences are committed over a specific period.

The AA's Gary Ronald said: “Essentially, Aarto was designed to encourage safer driving behaviour and compliance with the law in an attempt to reduce accidents and deaths on our roads.

“Unfortunately, it has not turned out this way. The system, tested as a pilot project in Johannesburg, has failed so badly that none of the other provinces want it to be rolled out nationally.”

The root of the problem, says Ronald, is the ineffectiveness of the very people meant to enforce the law.

The Aarto Act is very specific in that all notices of infringements are to be personally handed to drivers at the scene of the offence. Should this not be possible, the notices must be sent to the driver via registered mail.

Ronald said: “While the Johannesburg metro police department is fully aware of this, they simply don't adhere to their own rules. This is probably because of the cost of sending items via registered mail. This has resulted in the public simply choosing to disregard the notices, as they will not stand up to scrutiny.

The result is the general public continue to ignore the rules of the road - and the number of road deaths will continue to rise.”

He believes that in theory, the law is well-researched and has been well-implemented in other countries. In practice, though, it has fallen short of achieving its goals locally.

“It's time the government scrapped this and went back to the basics,” he said. - Star Motoring