The number of road accidents happening in South Africa in recent years has reached concerning numbers, with 2018 seeing 12 921 fatalities despite several driver awareness campaigns and increased police activity.

It’s one of the aspects that the now recently signed AARTO Amendment Bill aims to help curb, according to Transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

Addressing media at N1 North Carousel Plaza at Maubane off-ramp yesterday, the minister added that the deaths on SA roads have a far-reaching effect that extends further than the loss of life.

“We are burying far too many people as a result of crashes… Each death represented an average loss of R4.6 million to the economy, in terms of lost productivity, pain and suffering as well as legal and funeral costs,” he noted.

The AARTO Amendment Bill was initially developed in 2013, and went through engagement sessions with the public in 2017 and 2018.

It feature the following provisions, as per SA News:

  • Points Demerit System: This is an objective and fair system of identifying reckless drivers and law breakers so that they can be removed from the roads.
  • Common penalties: All traffic violations throughout the country will carry the same penal values.
  • Electronic service: This means that law enforcement can be effectively supported by technology, servicing documents by electronic means, such as email. Similarly, infringers can exercise their options electronically.
  • Infringement Appeals Tribunal: Where infringers can appeal against the rulings of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) to the tribunal.
  • Repeal of court elections: Where infringers do not have to be burdened by the courts for infringements.
  • Driver rehabilitation programmes: Infringers who have their licences suspended can attend rehabilitation programmes before being allowed back on the road. This shows that AARTO is not just about punishment but has intentions to ensure compliance and change of road user behaviour.

Whether these provisions will have the desired effect remains to be seen, but with the AARTO Amendment Bill having taken six years to be signed, it’s finally in place and ready to assist government in making our roads safer to travel on.

[Image – Photo by Robin Pierre on Unsplash]