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?