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Will Aarto work?

Over a year after its planned implementation was ruled unconstitutional, Aarto will soon be on the cards for motorists again. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court overturned the High Court’s ruling of Aarto as invalid and unconstitutional. What does this mean for South African motorists?

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says the efficacy of Aarto in bringing change to the high fatality rates, needs motorists to have faith in the Act as well. “Yet, even before the High Court overturned Aarto, the public had little faith in Aarto. There are concerns there is too much opportunity for corruption to creep into the system and too many instances where additional fees make the demerit system more of an income generator than a road safety strategy.

“Additionally, businesses perceive Aarto as a potential administrative headache. It has extensive administrative burdens associated with it in an environment where organisations are already weighed down by legislative requirements. Consequently, in light of these concerns, Aarto is already off to a bad start in gaining public support.”

Thus, if authorities hope to see a simplified and successful transition from the current legislative system to Aarto, adjustment to the Act is necessary. “Yet, placing the onus of successful implementation on authorities alone, is not enough. As much as drivers are concerned about corruption, they are also the most effective means of preventing it. If there are no drivers to participate in the corruption, then there is limited opportunity for it to occur.

“As for concerns about costs and administrative burdens, the driver again holds the power to avoid these. The ultimate goal of a demerit system is to reduce the rule-breaking that leads to crashes on the road. Thus, the solution can be as simple as being a law-abiding driver. This relates to the fourth concern, not noted in the media as much, which is the objection to a demerit system that makes it more difficult to break laws without behaviour-changing consequences.”

While it cannot be denied there are loopholes in the legislation that need reassessment, it is time to take ownership of the individuals’ role as well.

“With yesterday’s ruling in the highest court in the country, it cannot be denied that Aarto will most certainly become a reality. When this will happen and whether concerns will be addressed is yet to be seen. In the meantime, drivers need to assess the role they may be playing to make some of these concerns a reality,” says Herbert.

Will Aarto work?

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa