AARTO: Dramatic redesign or drop?

(Download SAVRALA’a AARTO Amendment Bill submission to Department of Transport)

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) was promulgated in 1998 and, at its core, when read with the National Road Traffic Offences Act was intended to;

a) decriminalise road traffic infringements by managing them administratively thereby giving much needed capacity to the court system and standardising infringements nationally

b) create a system of demerit points which should change driver behaviour and reduce the carnage on the country’s roads Fifteen years and many announcements from various Ministers of Transport and Government officials later, we remain in a situation where AARTO is only partially implemented in Tshwane and Johannesburg.

Everywhere else around the country the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA) applies which, for example, sees different jurisdictions applying different fine amounts for the same offence and then processing the offence through their local courts.

As can be expected, one of the key requirements for any prosecutorial process to be successful is the correct identification of the driver who committed the infringement. Before traffic enforcement by camera became as popular as it is with the authorities, many road users contravening the laws of the road were identified by a patrolling law enforcement officer who proceeded to pull over the driver, check for valid identification, advise the driver of the relevant law that was broken and then proceed to write up a fine.

Unfortunately, the new modern version of traffic enforcement largely relies on police officers sitting with their camera equipment concealed behind bridge columns or bushes and then downloading pictures of the vehicle registrations to a computer system. Before any camera infringement can then be processed, the registration must be matched against the vehicle owner details via Enatis.

Although the percentage may vary, it is generally accepted Enatis is just 30% accurate. Consequently, a huge number of traffic infringements are sent out to the incorrect drivers and invariably return back to the authorities in a return post bag which becomes a costly and wasteful exercise. Despite the various methods employed by some of the authorities to get around this problem, the lack of accurate and updated vehicle owner details on Enatis remains a major stumbling block for both the authorities, SAVRALA members and general vehicle owners.

The problem of driver identification, is generally less of a problem for leasing companies than car rental operators, however, they share an administrative burden when trying to process traffic fines. Typically, a leased vehicle will be allocated to an individual for a number of years so any traffic infringements received by the leasing company, all things being equal, can be reasonably assumed to be for that individual.

Leased vehicles in a pool would require the customer leasing the vehicles to have a system to track which of their employee’s drove which vehicle where and when. This becomes more complicated in a car rental environment where customers (first time and frequent renters) want to simply pick up their reserved vehicle without delays in administration. The car rental company has a very short window of opportunity to check the authenticity of the customer having produced only their drivers licence and credit card.

Under AARTO, the driver’s details are required for the fine to be redirected. In order for the authorities to redirect the fine to the correct person, the necessary AARTO document (to be completed
in full), requires a long list of details even including the renters fax number. Overseas renters, who do not have a South Africa ID number, cause further complications. As car rental companies will very often only have minimal and often only local contact details for the renter, this leaves a lot of information gaps in the AARTO documents required for submission.

The process of now trying to resolve outstanding traffic fines has become both an expensive and time consuming exercise for all involved. The administration designed in 1998 is largely irrelevant for today and this, at last, has been recognised by the authorities in the recent publication for comment of the AARTO Amendment Bill. While the Bill tries to offer an electronic solution to some of the administrative bottlenecks, it just raises further problems. It is also of concern the proposed wording begins to try and shift the responsibility for an outstanding payment to the vehicle owner rather than the driver of the vehicle at that time. SAVRALA will oppose this, as the aforementioned simply moves the burden of
unpaid traffic fines to the car rental and leasing companies.

While Government continues to speak about Road Safety in terms of the Decade of Action, we have yet to see the road carnage tide turn and the numbers ebb back from the annual loss of more than 14 000 lives costing the economy in excess of R300-billion.

AARTO started out with noble intentions and was modelled on successes in several developed countries, however, after so many years of controversy and lack of national adoption, it may well now be the time to either dramatically redesign it to simply focus on those key factors that cause road fatalities (eg drunk driving, excessive high speeds, road worthiness, seat belts etc) or drop it completely and go back to the drawing board.

(Download SAVRALA’a AARTO Amendment Bill submission to Department of Transport)

SAVRALA WELCOMES ANOTHER AARTO DELAY

Press release issued 08-03-2012

SAVRALA WELCOMES ANOTHER AARTO DELAY

SAVRALA, The Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, representing approximately 450,000 vehicles nationally, welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Logan Maistry (spokesperson for the Department of Transport) about a delay of the planned roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) on April 01.

SAVRALA hopes that the Department of Transport will now return to a process of constructive and participative engagement at the Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), to discuss many of the key concerns around AARTO which were left unanswered during the meetings last year.

Amongst the many issues raised, was the need for government to make public the results of the AARTO pilot study so that all stakeholders can become aware of the lessons learnt and will be able to contribute to any proposed regulation changes in the future. Some of the key lessons learnt from the e-Tolling process to date are that it is difficult for stakeholders to give productive input into a process when information is withheld by the Department of Transport.

As the central focus of AARTO is to change driver behavior, SAVRALA would like to see the current schedule of offences (over three thousand) get reduced to focus on the critical infringements that contribute to the current unacceptable level of death on our roads. SAVRALA believes a simplified schedule of key offences would assist both consistent enforcement by the authorities and provide better understanding to the public road user.

In addition, several of the key AARTO administrative processes could also be simplified to make the system more reliable, efficient and less expensive to implement, this however will require an open mind from the authorities when AARTO discussions once again commence with stakeholders.

SAVRALA is in the process of setting up workshops with all relevant stakeholders to identify ways of achieving safer roads and looks forward to the Department of Transport’s participation in this regard.

End

Editorial contact: Paul Pauwen 083 250 0333 (www.savrala.co.za)

MANY AARTO QUESTIONS YET TO BE ANSWERED

Press release issued 20-01-2012

MANY AARTO QUESTIONS YET TO BE ANSWERED

“The Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) representing 450,000 vehicles is astounded by the RTMC’s intention to implement AARTO nationally on Sunday, 1 April, given the extent of the outstanding issues. Without question, the current level of road carnage is unacceptable, but it would be naïve to think that AARTO, as last presented in early 2011, offers the solution to changing driver behaviour. SAVRALA has repeatedly indicated its full support for the successful implementation of AARTO and has shown its willingness to engage further in order to achieve the desired result: safer roads for all; and not for the purpose of providing an additional source of revenue for the metros and/or putting people out of jobs.

 

SAVRALA is a member of the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) transport task team that attended several NEDLAC (National Economic Development & Labour Council) discussions on AARTO last year.  Government, represented by the Department of Transport, seems to have effectively dismissed both the NEDLAC process and its participants by choosing not to present the results of the AARTO Pilot Study and various other critically important documents, in order for NEDLAC members to consider AARTO and make a positive contribution.

 

SAVRALA expects that the public will have an opportunity to comment on any revised AARTO regulation in advance of the national implementation.  In the context of road and transport related matters, the continued lack of effective partnership between Government and society in likely to polarize further the current broad-based opposition to problematic legislation and un-implementable regulations.  The 1 April launch would be a missed opportunity to exploit the synergies between stakeholders and we urge government to consider effectively engaging further.

 

Editorial contact: Paul Pauwen 083 250 0333 (www.savrala.co.za)

SAVRALA comments on AARTO Roll-out delay

September 2010

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has announced that the proposed roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act is to be postponed in order to ensure effective implementation.

Prior to this, The South African Vehicle and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) had been granted access to The National Traffic Information System (e-NaTIS) in order to facilitate finding a practical, holistic and sustainable solution to the processing of fines, particularly in the vehicle rental and leasing environment.

SAVRALA has therefore been developing an automated system to help streamline the current process of re-directing fines so that the notice of infringement is issued directly to the driver, not the owner, of the vehicle. To this end, various regulation amendments have been proposed, focusing particularly on the nomination of drivers.

Val van den Bergh, General Manager of SAVRALA, comments: “The fact that the AARTO roll-out has now been postponed will give SAVRALA more time to have the regulation changes implemented successfully. We are pleased that the RTMC is taking the time to address the challenges raised during AARTO’s pilot phase.”

AARTO And Savrala come together on traffic fine issue

June 2010

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) recently announced that the proposed roll out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) is going ahead as planned. The staggered roll out is expected to be completed by 31 December 2010.

Although the South African Vehicle and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) fully supports the implementation of AARTO, as well as its objectives, our concern for our members has stemmed from the problems posed by traffic fines. It is not car rental companies who are traffic offenders, but rather the clients driving the cars. Many SAVRALA members have accumulated large volumes of traffic fines, many of which have not been redirected by the authorities to the offenders in question. This has resulted in SAVRALA members being harassed and the delay in registration and licensing of vehicles etc.

Consider this statistic: SAVRALA members accumulate an estimated 400,000 traffic fines per annum. Of these 150,000 are from foreign residents and they all need to be re-directed. Currently the first infringement notice goes to the relevant SAVRALA member, not the driver responsible. This results in a lengthy process to re-direct the penalty to the driver – a mission which is often impossible. Not only does this delay the payment of the penalty, it also means that the SAVRALA member remains liable.

AARTO is managed by the RTMC to ensure the proper and effective functioning of its systems and processes, with law enforcement being the key focus. Both the RTMC and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) have agreed with SAVRALA that there is a need for a practical, holistic and sustainable solution to the processing of fines. They understand that avoiding the risks, delays and costs relating to the posting of documentation and subsequent manual processing is vital and have therefore granted SAVRALA access to The National Traffic Information System (e-NaTIS).

SAVRALA will now undertake to develop an automated system that pays specific attention to the needs of rental and leasing sections whilst complying with the AARTO Act and other relevant regulations. This system will help streamline the current process of re-directing the fines as the notice of infringement will be issued directly to the driver – valuable time will be saved and SAVRALA members will no longer be liable.

AARTO Update: Tshwane pilot project precursor to national roll-out

November 2008

The recent launch of the Tshwane pilot scheme of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Offences Act has not been without some teething problems, reports the Road Traffic Management Corporation, in response to recent press articles.

Despite adequate preparation on the part of the RTMC in readiness for the launch in July, which was restricted geographically to Tshwane and only to certain sections of the Act, one of the major hindrances to the overall efficiency of Tshwane’s implementation was the delay by Telkom to install a fixed data line. A 3G wireless system has been put in place temporarily, but this has significantly slowed down the processing of violation notices. In addition, communication between various systems used at national and municipal level and with service providers such as SA Post Office and FNB, have hampered the smooth application of AARTO in the region.

Added to technical challenges, human nature has also played its part in complicating matters, as despite an extensive information campaign through print and electronic media and through the distribution of literature through post boxes, at public libraries and civic centres as well as shopping malls, the public has mis-applied the publicised 50% discount on AARTO issued infringement notices, and has taken it upon itself in many cases to apply the discount to old fines issued under the previous system.

It will naturally take some time for the public to adjust to the change over and to learn the terminology which AARTO employs and which differentiates the Act from the previous Criminal Procedures Act. However, operationally deployed metro police officers of the TMPD were fully trained prior to the launch and are fully conversant in the language and procedures of AARTO.

AARTO has also prematurely become synonymous with the points demerit system, although this element of the Act was never part of the pilot phase project. Nor will it be in the forthcoming Johannesburg roll out – demerit points will only come into play when AARTO rolls out nationally in order not to prejudice negatively the drivers of Gauteng.

Up to the end of October, just under 30 000 infringement notices had been served on drivers in Tshwane, but due to the nature of the new system which offers options for responding to infringement notices in a series of 32 day cycles, in can take up to 100-120 days for all of an infringer’s options to be exhausted. For this reason we have not yet seen the conclusion of many of the notices and therefore the success or failure of the pilot cannot be adjudged on this basis. To enable a proper assessment of the success or failure of AARTO, time must be allowed for a reasonable volume of infringement notices to reach the different levels in the process.

One of the key successes, however, of the pilot can be measured in the reduction in the number of court cases dealing with less serious traffic violations. Following the introduction of AARTO, the number of infringers who have elected to be tried in court has reduced substantially. The number of summonses issued in accordance with the AARTO legislation has also reduced, as the AARTO system, as its name suggests, promotes administrative adjudication of less serious traffic violations. Up to the end of September, only 23 infringers of 17 358 infringement notices served elected to appear in court.

Overall, given the technical challenges, AARTO has performed well since the pilot was launched in July, and Johannesburg is already preparing for its own trial period. JMPD trainers have been trained by the RTMC and they are commencing training on their operational officers. In addition, local contravention management system service providers to JMPD have started inter system testing with eNaTIS in order to be ready for the upload of speed and traffic light infringements.

With the increase in the volume of transactions set to increase significantly, stress testing of the system will be carefully monitored before proceeding with further roll out at national level, but the RTMC is confident that AARTO will be successful in its key objectives of reducing the strain on the criminal justice system, changing driver habits and as a direct result, reducing the number of traffic accidents on South Africa’s roads.

Visit www.aarto.co.za

For more information, please contact:

Relebogile Mabotja
Media Liaison
Ukhozi Productions
011 728 1063
media@ukhoziproductions.co.za

The “hurry up and wait” is over! AARTO on track for September 2003

Feb 2003

Word is that following Minister of Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe’s appointment to caretake the transport hot seat during Dullah Omar’s leave of absence due to ill health, there will be a change of political perspective in the transport ministry.

The acting minister’s task will not be easy and he will have to counter the flak relating to the National Department of Transport’s (NDOT) non-performance in a number of critical areas. During his tenure, it seems likely that the much-delayed Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act of 1998 (AARTO) legislation, will get the green light.

Following a meeting with the NDOT in early Feburary, transport consultant, Alta Swanepoel confirms that “September 2003 is looking good.”

AARTO has long been a priority on the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association’s (SAVRALA) agenda and in October 2002, the association’s legal sub-committee reported that assurances made by the NDOT and the Provincial Chief Traffic Officers to involve them to a greater degree in the final stages of the pending legislation, had not been met. Meetings scheduled for early 2003 have also since been cancelled on three occasions.

One well-documented concern voiced by SAVRALA relates to certain of the regulations and provisions of the Act that would make it difficult for rental and leasing companies to operate large fleets driven by multiple drivers and still comply with the legislation.

“The problem is that these companies are the licensed owners of their vehicles and, as it stands, the legislation has not allowed for this,” says Swanepoel.

With over six million vehicles on SA roads, she said rental and leasing fleets represented a very small percentage and government was unlikely to review the legislation to accommodate them at this late stage. “A third Amendment to the Act was approved by Parliament last November and is on Thabo Mbeki’s table awaiting signature,” continued Swanepoel. “All the basic principles, however, remain the same, only minor administrative changes have been made.”

The next step would be the issuing of a Proclamation, which, once signed off, would result in the appointment of a registrar and the formation of the agency. Thereafter, a six month pilot programme would still be implemented in the Pretoria area and legislation up to and including Section 23 of the Act would be enforced. This falls just short of the tough Points Demerit System legislation contained in Section 24.

Swanepoel is confident that the six month trial of the legislation and testing of computer systems and technologies would provide a good case study. “Thereafter, a countrywide roll-out should take about 18 months.”

SAVRALA president, John Broadway, once again urges association members to prepare themselves. “AARTO is no longer on the legislative back-burner and we must ensure that we are up to speed with the demands facing us.”

AARTO legislation on track for September 2003

Business Report, Feb. 2003 

During Minister of Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe’s tenure as acting Minister of Transport, it seems likely that the much-postponed Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act of 1998 (AARTO) legislation, will get the green light after four years on the legislative backburner.

Following a meeting with the National Department of Transport (NDOT) on 12 February, respected transport consultant, Alta Swanepoel, confirmed that “September 2003 is looking good.”

Commenting on behalf of the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA), an association spokesperson applauded the Act as a “well thought through document. SAVRALA is supportive of any legislation and initiatives that instill disciplines and a more responsible mindset among South Africa’s road-users.”

He went on to say, however, that should the legislation as it currently stands be implemented, fleet management (FM) and rental companies would be prejudiced in terms of the services they are able to offer customers.

This pending legislation has long been of concern to SAVRALA and, despite extensive consultation with the NDOT and Chief Provincial Traffic Officers by the association’s legal sub-committee, there had been no acknowledgement by government of the need for any real changes.

In October 2002, the sub-committee reported that assurances made to involve them more in the final stages of the legislation had not been met. Meetings scheduled for early 2003 have also since been cancelled on three occasions.

According to SAVRALA president, John Broadway, one of the key areas that will affect the association’s members is the points demerit system, an integral part of the National Traffic Information Systems (NaTIS) outlined in Section 24 of the Act.

In terms of NaTIS, demerits will accrue to the driver identified at the time of the offence. Traffic offences will attract demerits and when these reach a certain level, the owner will not be able to re-license or sell the vehicle.

“Under NaTIS, the owner is defined as the end-user of the vehicle and is typically the driver or operator of the vehicle and responsible for its licensing,” says Broadway. “In the case of FM companies, however, this could be the corporate customer and in rental companies, virtually anyone.”

The title holder is the entity that has financial lien to the vehicle and is responsible for the registration or de-registration of the vehicle. The problem is that, traditionally, fleet management companies have had the rights of both titleholders and owners, allowing them to perform and manage the task of registering and licensing vehicles on behalf of their customers.

As the proposed legislation stands, FM companies will be liable to pay all demerit fines incurred by the drivers of the vehicles under their management. Broadway says that these companies are therefore faced with the decision whether to continue to register as both titleholder and owner or get customers to license their own vehicles by themselves and becoming the owners.

Swanepoel confirms “the problem is that fleet management companies are the licensed owners of their vehicles and the legislation has not allowed for this. With more than six million vehicles on SA roads, these fleets represent a very small percentage and Government is unlikely to review the legislation to accommodate them at this late stage.”

“A third Amendment to the Act was approved by Parliament in November 2002 and is on Thabo Mbeki’s table for signature,” she continued. “All the basic principles, however, remain the same, only minor administrative changes have been made.”

The next step would be the issuing of a Proclamation, which, once signed off, would result in the appointment of a registrar and the formation of the agency. A six month pilot programme would be implemented in the Pretoria area and legislation up to and including Section 23 of the Act would be enforced. This falls just short of the points demerit system legislation contained in Section 24.

Swanepoel is confident that a six month trial of the legislation and testing of computer systems and technologies would provide a good case study. “Thereafter, a countrywide roll-out should take about 18 months,” she said.

Broadway once again urges association members to prepare themselves. “AARTO is almost upon us and each of us must ensure that our company infrastructure is up to speed with the demands facing us.”

Where to with AARTO?

June 2002

In terms of the pending Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) of 1998, the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) warns vehicle owners. The buck stops with YOU!

While the legislation has long been promulgated, the Act has yet to come into effect. The latest in a series of false starts was a pilot project scheduled for Pretoria during November 2001. It didn’t happen and, according to an independent consultant specialising in transport legislation, “right now, we have no further information”, although sources at the National Department of Transport (NDOT) indicate that the third quarter of 2003 may well be the introduction date.

SAVRALA applauds the Act as “a well thought through document” and is supportive of any legislation and initiatives that instill disciplines, a more responsible mindset among road-users and effectively reduce the carnage on the roads. With this legislation still in the wings, the association is urging individuals and companies to be prepared for the demands that AARTO – when eventually introduced – will make on them in terms of compliance and accountability.

There are some concerns however says a SAVRALA spokesperson: “Certain of the regulations and specific provisions of the Act will make it difficult to operate large fleets of vehicles that are driven by multiple drivers and, at the same time, comply fully with the legislation and proposed regulations.

“In conjunction with other motor industry representative organisations, there are certain common issues of concern that could prejudice our members’ businesses and, jointly, we have requested a meeting at ministerial level to discussion these. Not least of these would be the voluminous additional administrative work that the implementation of AARTO would necessitate within certain motor industry sectors – car rental companies and large fleet owners for example.”

A paraphrase of Section 17.5 of the Act reads as follows: “The owner of a vehicle who permits any person to drive such vehicle without having ascertained the full names, acceptable identification, residential and postal addresses of this person is guilty of an offence and liable for a fine of R20 000-00 or imprisonment not exceeding a year.

While fleet owners, car renters, lessors, sellers or repairers know who the vehicle’s primary driver is at any given time, it may not always prove possible to comply with the legislation to the letter of the law. In terms of the legislation, while the “owner’s” permission to drive should be obtained before allowing another party to drive, this is not always practical as the following instance illustrates:

Mr Smith rents a car and lists Mr Brown as an additional driver. Mr Brown falls ill, is deemed medically unfit to drive and requests that Mr Jones drive the rental vehicle. Similarly, a motor dealership allows an individual to test drive a vehicle without recording the details outlined in the Act. Or, while in for servicing, a workshop mechanic takes a customer’s car out on the road for assessment.

See just how easy it will be in the future to fall foul of the law?