Statement by the chief executive officer of the Road Traffic Management Corporation on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences implementation
26 Aug 2009
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act has been implemented on a pilot in the municipalities of Tshwane and Johannesburg from July 2008 and February 2009 respectively.
The purpose of implementing the AARTO first on a pilot phase was aimed at testing all the applicable systems, processes, procedures and forms prior to rolling it out nationally. This strategy of engaging in a pilot first was also in recognition of the complicated nature and processes of the AARTO and its involvement of a multiplicity of role players in the achievement of its intended objectives of increasing road safety.
We recognised that from its implementation, the AARTO has created a lot of interest amongst motorists and all stakeholders committed towards the achievement of the objectives of a safer road traffic environment for all road users. Thus the fundamental objective underlying the AARTO is to change the behaviour of motorists from wanton disregard to road traffic laws and inculcate a voluntary habit of compliance to all road traffic laws.
The road traffic user environment has become a serious concern to government as road deaths are traumatic in nature and impact negatively on socio economic needs. Prior to the introduction of AARTO, fatal road crashes accounted for 15 000 fatalities and 700 000 road crashes. This costs the economy an estimated R48 billion.
The AARTO Act aims at compliance with road traffic legislation, the prompt payment of penalties, a safer road user environment and a better and more efficient adjudication of road traffic offences. It also intends assisting the courts by reducing court rolls removing less serious traffic offences to be dealt with through an administrative process.
The points demerit system (PDS) will not be implemented until AARTO has been successfully rolled out throughout the country. Whereas the PDS has not yet been affected as part of the AARTO, motorists would have realized that the infringement notices issued already provide information as to the applicable demerit points as promulgated under schedule three of the AARTO regulations 2008. This is intended to serve as an educational tool that will warn and encourage motorists to correct their behaviour to one of compliance to road traffic laws.
From a road safety perspective, it is important that AARTO be rolled out as soon as possible and hence it is a policy objective to complete the implementation of AARTO country wide during 2010. However, a number of challenges have been identified which are being addressed with a view to commence with the national roll out during 2010, only once these challenges have been resolved.
The media is taken as an important partner in ensuring that motorists are well educated in the processes of AARTO. We recognise this is a critical element to ensure successful implementation of the AARTO. In the article published on Friday, 21 August 2009 in the Beeld newspaper, a number of issues are raised that alleges that certain elements of AARTO are illegal or in contravention of the AARTO Act and this statement is issued in response to such issues.
Whilst the report purports to discuss the details in respect of the problems experienced, it must be noted that these are only few challenges reported on. The corporation has been vigilant in the implementation of the pilot and has in fact identified a number of challenges during the pilots and devised intervention measures for urgent implementation as part of the comprehensive package to achieve an efficient and effective national rollout.
Notices allegedly issued in contravention of the AARTO Act
I would like to emphasise that the AARTO itself is one of the legislative ambits that seeks not only to ensure a just process of law enforcement but also goes a long way towards protecting the rights of individuals. It provides for certain processes to be followed when an infringer feels that the issuing of an infringement notice was unjustifiably done so, or wish to challenge the technical validity of any notice issued.
Any deviation from the provisions of the AARTO Act must be identified through a credible quality control system that should be in place at the issuing authority and no defective infringement notice should be allowed to be issued. The Road Traffic Management Corporation is aware of several complaints about speed law enforcement by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), but these complaints are all in respect of the actual circumstances relating to the alleged speed violations and have no bearing on whether the enforcement was performed in terms of the AARTO Act or the Criminal Procedure Act. The corporation has met with certain complainants and requested the JMPD to investigate the complaints and cancel notices where the complaints are justified.
The corporation is also aware of notices posted more than 40 days after the date of the infringement, which is contrary to the provisions of AARTO regulations. Hence the corporation intervened to ensure that the quality control measures on National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS) and the Local Contravention Management Systems are improved and has given instruction that all such notices be cancelled. Nevertheless, the volume of such notices does not amount to the R100 million magnitudes cited in the Beeld newspaper.
Beeld claims that Tshwane only has a single person authorised to receive penalty payments, but fails to mention that in order to afford the public as many as possible payment outlets, the penalty can be paid at any post office, First National Bank (FNB) automated teller machine (ATM) or at the counter within any branch of FNB in respect of infringements committed in Tshwane during the pilot project. These facilities will be expanded to include payments on the AARTO website, all well as various other banks and payment channels prior to AARTO being rolled out nationally.
eNaTIS transactions to be loaded manually
Most of the problem areas in the administration of AARTO process have now been identified and are in the process of being addressed. Admittedly there are certain concerns and problem areas especially in the administrative section of the AARTO agency that must receive urgent attention. The implementation of the system already developed to scan any application or notice submitted by an infringer and automatically directs it to the appropriate department for processing whilst its progress is tracked and reported on to management is the most important in this regard. This system will also automatically update eNaTIS without the need for manual updates by staff members of the AARTO Agency.
Although the corporation is not satisfied with the current payment rate, it must be noted that to protect the rights of the infringer, the AARTO Act has strict prescriptions for the issuing of a warrant of Execution by the sheriff and hence no warrant has yet been executed during the pilot. Once warrants in terms of which the movable property of an infringer is attached to pay the outstanding penalties are executed by the sheriffs, it is expected that the payment rate will increase substantially.
Reduction in notices issued
The 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in the issuing of infringement notices can be attributed to the incorrect identification numbers and addresses recorded by law enforcement officers on infringement notices leading to the eventual withdrawal of notices. Furthermore, some officers do not have infrastructure numbers on eNaTIS confirming that they comply with the stated requirements to issue notices.
Speed law enforcement in 70 and 90 kilometre zones
An appropriate amendment to schedule three of the AARTO regulations is being prepared and finalised and will be published together with other aspects that have been identified in the pilot. It must be mentioned that AARTO will introduce a standard set of charges and penalties countrywide instead of the current practice where the amount of penalties are determined locally in each magisterial cluster.
Summons to appear in court
The eNaTIS is a national register of motor vehicles and driving licences. Although the system also registers contraventions and demerit points of offenders, the service of summonses to appear in court must be performed by the issuing authorities, who have their own local contravention management system that must be interfaced with the eNaTIS and comply with minimum standards to receive the data of summonses to be served electronically.
The current situation with respect to the implementation of the AARTO in Johannesburg is that the operational processes are being done on the city’s local system and currently not yet interfaced with the eNaTIS. This situation is only applicable during the pilot and once all the aspects have been addressed, all AARTO processes will be directly captured on the eNaTIS, in order to provide a single national database of all infringements in preparation for the national rollout.
Powers of arrest
The AARTO Act is currently being reviewed in preparation for the national rollout and will be effectively amended to address all reported legislative challenges as well as identified ones from the internal assessments the corporation had engaged in together with the various authorities. It has never been the objective of AARTO to affect an arrest as this would be contrary to the administrative process, thus the AARTO provides for the issuing of a warrant of execution as opposed to a warrant of arrest.
Addresses on eNaTIS
According to an analysis of the postal addresses on eNaTIS, a large percentage of the addresses have an incorrect postal code or a misspelled post office or town name. The correction of these structural deficiencies has been performed programmatically as one aspect of the intervention measures put in place by the corporation. Further that the percentage accuracy of the data quality shows a disturbing trend of motorists not complying with the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No 93 of 1996) that require motorists to inform the appropriate registering authorities of any changes in their addresses within 21 days of such change occurring.
Confusion at metro police level
Authorised officers in the employ of the Tshwane and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Departments involved in the issuing of infringement notices in terms of the AARTO have been trained in the AARTO. Monthly project meetings take place with both authorities to ensure that all issues are identified to be addressed before the further implementation of AARTO proceeds.
The pilot served not only to identify certain short-comings of the introduction of the AARTO process but also the manner in which traffic law enforcement in the country is conducted. To this end not only have deficiencies of AARTO been identified but also law enforcement. The corporation is currently reviewing the pilots and I am confident that solutions will be found to timely address these challenges to ensure the smooth and efficient roll out of the AARTO in 2010.
I would like to reiterate that the Road Traffic Management Corporation has been aware of the challenges experienced and are busy putting in place the necessary interventions to address and sort out these challenges. I am confident of the strategy and capability of the corporation to affect the necessary interventions required to achieve critical success in the implementation and further rollout countrywide.
I have been fully briefed on these challenges and will address the concerns raised by the police chiefs’ forum and respond to them through the appropriate channels. As the corporation, we are encouraged by the active participation of all the key role players in the AARTO and their commitment to contribute towards a successful implementation and the increment of road safety. The corporation will continue in its pro-active approach of involving the key role players required for successful implementation and national rollout of the AARTO. The media will also be kept abreast of developments through regular press briefings.
For more information kindly contact:
Japh Chuwe 071 680 3447
Further information on the AARTO can be acquired on the following websites: http://www.aarto.co.za and http://www.rtmc.co.za.
Issued by: Road Traffic Management Corporation
26 August 2009
Issued by: Road Traffic Management Corporation
26 Aug 2009
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