File picture: Danie van der Lith / African News Agency (ANA).

Pretoria – The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), which administers the highly contentious Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, on Thursday said the new law will change behaviour of motorists in South Africa. 

Addressing the National Press Club in Pretoria, the agency’s registrar Japh Chuwe said the implementation of the Aarto Act, which President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law, would usher in a new and radical approach to the management of all road traffic issues and increase safety on the roads. 

Chuwe said the death toll was around 14 000 deaths annually - with an estimated economic impact of R 147 billion. 

“In essence, the implementation of the Aarto seeks to change the behaviour of motorists. The critical over-arching goal is road safety. 

"By implementing the Aarto, we will be able to change people’s behaviour from wanton disregard for road traffic laws, effecting zero-tolerant policies to traffic violations and inculcate a new habit of voluntary compliance to road traffic laws.  

"When this is achieved, all road users in the country will be able to fully enjoy the use and benefits of the country’s road infrastructure network,” he said.

As South Africans across the board contemplate the pros and cons of the Act, which has been criticised highly by organisations including Outa and the Justice Project SA, Chuwe said “national rollout plans under the leadership of the Minister (Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula) are afoot”. 

He said communities would be kept abreast of developments as the programme unfolded.

“The minister, through the Aarto programme, has made a commitment to curbing the carnage on our roads and committed to re-imagine our approach to road safety and making sure our people arrive alive when using our roads. 

"The ministry, department, RTIA and roads entities including road safety stakeholders are excited about the approval of the Aarto Act,” Chuwe said.

“The efficacy of the system has been tested during the pilot phase in the municipalities of Tshwane and Johannesburg. The challenges experienced had been used to extrapolate the lessons learned and to inform the strategy for the national rollout.  

"All the necessary interventions required to ensure successful national rollout have been and continue to be made, in order to benefit the rollout and ensure a seamless implementation.  

"Through its implementation, we will be able to usher in a new and fundamentally radical approach to the management of all road traffic issues and to increase safety on our roads.”

Chuwe emphasised that the “true intention of the Aarto is not merely to provide for punitive measures”. 

“It is intended to adequately address non-compliant behaviour and contribute to a change in the behaviour and attitudes of motorists to one of easy compliance to road traffic laws. 

The Act proposes to give motorists whose driving licenses would have been suspended an opportunity to redeem themselves through attendance of rehabilitation programmes in order to be allowed to drive again earlier than the prescribed suspension period,” Chuwe said.

African News Agency (ANA)