Companies transporting hazardous chemicals and other dangerous goods have until April to prepare for the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) system – or they could face losing their licenses and permits.
The Chemical and Allied Industries‘ Association (CAIA) recently held Responsible Care workshops in Durban and Johannesburg on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, covering issues such as driver safety and compliance with legislation.
Speaking at the workshop, Gavin Kelly of the Road Freight Association (RFA) said AARTO will change the way traffic offences are managed, with a number of important implications for industry. Kelly says AARTO is likely to be implemented countrywide from April 1 2011.
There are four categories of infringements or offences, including Infringement (I), Major Infringement (MI), Offence (O) and Court Offence (C). Penalties under AARTO will include fines and may include demerit points depending on the nature of the offence. Kelly emphasises that drivers will start with zero points (not 12, as has been rumoured) and will accumulate points for each infringement until a maximum of 12 points has been reached.
The first and second time a driver exceeds 12 demerit points, the license is suspended for three months (for each point over 12). The third time, the license is cancelled and the driver must reapply as a learner driver. Once points are accumulated, it takes three months of infringement-free driving for them to be removed, one at a time.
In terms of the AARTO process, an Infringement Notice is issued within 32 days, allowing a 50% discount on the fine for early payment followed by a Courtesy Letter, also within 32 days. Should these be ignored, an Enforcement Order is issued, also within 32 days. It is important to note that the Courtesy Letter and Enforcement Order include extra financial penalties. The final stage is the issuing of a Warrant for the confiscation of property, which can include licenses, permits and registration discs. There are financial penalties for ignoring notices, which can become expensive as notices must be either hand-delivered or sent by registered post.
Administrative adjudication means that this process will take place out of court, except in relation to certain serious offences. Also, drivers will still have the right to defend themselves in court at any stage in the process before an Enforcement Order is issued.
One of the key differences between the CPA traffic management system and AARTO is that previously there was no penalty for owners and operators, other than paying fines on behalf of drivers. Now, the system allows for the suspension and cancellation of drivers’ licenses as well as professional driving permits (PrDPs), vehicle license discs and the operator's card. This means that mismanaging traffic infringements, like ignoring fines and notices, can result in interruption of operations and loss of business. Also, under AARTO fines can only be re-directed once, so it is the operator’s responsibility to know exactly who is driving their vehicles and when.
AARTO will be implemented by a centralised authority called the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), which will also collect fines and disburse the revenue to the relevant municipalities. Under AARTO there are uniform penalties for fines in all jurisdictions around the country and the process seeks to complete the prosecution of offences, so that old cases don’t hang around on the books for years as is currently the case. Dedicated traffic courts will hear cases that do go to court.
As an example of the kinds of penalties levied under AARTO, “a vehicle carrying goods not safely contained within the body of the vehicle, securely fastened to the vehicle, properly protected from being dislodged or spilled” carries a fine of R1 000 and three demerit points, with both driver and operator being charged. “A goods vehicle carrying persons in the goods department without a partition” would incur a penalty of two demerit points, a R750 fine and both the driver and operator would be charged.
Kelly says the RFA is drafting a best practice manual for industry and conducting workshops for drivers and on-site workshops for operators. He says the implications for industry include the following:
- Employment contracts must include performance and disciplinary thresholds in terms of AARTO;
- Companies should establish a traffic offence management system, to ensure they do not end up losing licenses and permits due to ignoring fines and notices;
- Driver and operator re-training is a must;
- Cargo management (especially in terms of correct loading) should be implemented;
- A standby pool of drivers and vehicles may be required if licenses are suspended.
Definition and abbreviations
AARTO – Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences system, replaces the CPA
RTIA – Road Traffic Infringement Agency is the national implementing agency for AARTO
CPA – Criminal Procedure Act
NRTA – National Road Traffic Act
PrDP – Professional Driving Permit
I – Infringement
MI – Major Infringement
O – Offence
C – Court (a serious offence that goes straight to court without the option of a penalty)
eNaTIS – the electronic National Traffic Information System
We would like to refer mining companies and fleet owners to a much more comprehensive discussion on Aarto, the concerns raised and what we need to know about Aarto:
Content kindly provided by CAIA