The AARTO Bill is looming and as a Fleet Owner or a Fleet Manager this has some pretty far-reaching implications for you and your organisation. Granted there are a host of questions that are as yet unanswered; but this is not grounds for complacency. When it comes to being on the right side of AARTO, forewarned is forearmed.
The basic concept behind the law change is that AARTO will eventually replace the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and bring a certain amount of uniformity to how fines and vehicle licensing is managed across the country.
Currently in South Africa, there are two categories of traffic fines. The first is a “no admission of guilt fine”, and then the second is an “admission of guilt fine”.
The “no admission of guilt” fine covers serious misconduct of a road user and the offender has no choice but to appear before a magistrate where a fine or prison sentence will be imposed.
The “admission of guilt” fines are for less serious offences and the process which governs them differs.
Here you will first receive a notice of infringement. If you fail to pay the fine following this notification you will be issued with a summons to appear in court. You are then required to appear and either contest or pay the fine. You can settle the fine before the court proceedings but if you fail to pay and do not appear in court a warrant of arrest will be issued.
There is no change to the process governing serious fines under AARTO, however the process for admission of guilt fines will change. Here if you commit a minor infringement, you will receive a notice which will alert you of the sum payable for your fine and the number of demerit points for the infringement. If you pay the fine, the demerit points will reflect against your name. Your license will have a maximum of 12 points (this may change with new regulations) and will be suspended if you reach this cap.
The process for companies is slightly different. At present the onus is on companies to ensure that in the event of an infringement the offender is nominated to pay the fine. However, it is common practice for companies to ignore this process and simply pay all their fines monthly using a legally responsible person or “proxy”. This means that typically, the offender is not held liable for their infringement and there is no real behaviour inducing mechanism.
Under AARTO, the demerits are not tagged against the company; instead the company will be afforded a notice period of 32 days to redirect any fines to the driver who transgressed. If they fail to do this the company will receive increased fine amounts until the fine is paid.
Failure to pay the fine will mean blocking any renewals, new registrations, deregistrations and notices of change of ownership on any of the company’s vehicles. Specific vehicles can also carry penalties and you will not be able to renew the vehicle license for a specific period – in essence grounding your fleet.
While there are still many issues with trying to come to terms with the new regulations, there are a few things that are clear:
1. Passive monitoring of drivers and trying to stay on top of infringement notices is not going to result in the change in behaviour necessary to ensure that your fleet stays active and that all of your drivers are on the right side of the law.
2. A far more active means of speed enforcement is necessary. One that actively manages the maximum speed of your vehicle relative to the speed limit on a specific segment of road.
This is where GeoInt’s SpeedFOX is a category leader in not only assisting in ensuring
AARTO compliance; but also to decrease speed related road accidents and fatalities and save money on unnecessary road infringements.
Written by Jonathan Houston