E-toll on the N1 freeway from Pretoria. Picture: Trevor Kunene
  • Road users in Gauteng will not be liable for thousands of rands in fines for driving without e-tags, with the enactment of the new AARTO Act.
  • The new Act seeks to effect change in driver behaviour and make South Africa's drivers more responsible, says The Road Traffic Infringement Agency.
  • E-Tolls are handled by the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme which affects drivers within the province.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

With the enactment of the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act, Gauteng drivers will not incur exorbitant fines for driving without e-tags.

This is according to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) after The Citizen reported that commuters between Johannesburg and Pretoria can pay up to R1,000 in fines when travelling without e-tags.

According to the daily, with the enactment of the AARTO Act, light motor vehicle drivers can expect to pay a total of R250 in fines, per e-toll gantry for driving without e-tags.

Speaking to Business Insider South Africa, RTIA spokesperson, Monde Mkalipi says road users should not confuse the AARTO Act and the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme’s (GFIP) e-tolls system.

"E-tolls are handled by a different agency and there is a definite bold link between what the Act will be doing nationally and what the agency hopes to achieve provincially," says Mkalipi.

"However if there is ever any cross-pollination of regulations between the two, then we will do a thorough investigation."

According to Mkalipi, the debate whether the Act will have any effect on Gauteng drivers travelling without e-tags is premature, as the matter is yet to be addressed by various stakeholders, including the province's premier.

The AARTO Act wants to effect changes in driver behaviour.

According to Mkalipi, the new AARTO Act which was promulgated on August 13 after being signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa, looks to effect changes in driver behaviour.

"With statistics showing high numbers of fatalities on our country's roads, South Africans have been asking that more stringent rules be enforced." The answer to the problem is the demerit system which will now come into effect, thanks to the new law.

"It is public knowledge that the President established a Task Team headed by transport minister, Fikile Mbalula to craft solutions related to the operations of the GFIP."

According to RTIA, the Act does not bypass normal traffic legislation and tackle offenders in ways which many view as unconstitutional because they deprive citizens of their right to a fair judicial process.

There is nothing unconstitutional with respect to how it is developed and how it will work, the RTIA says in a statement. According to the statement, the Act provides even more protection to infringers. The Act will decriminalise the majority of traffic violations so that they are dealt with administratively.

This means that one will not have a criminal record for committing a traffic infringement, whereas being found guilty of the same infringement in court can result in a criminal record.  

"The system will give drivers various demerits for various infringements." These infringements include driving under the influence and reckless and negligent driving, among others.

We don't mind the Act, but the "how" is not clear.

"We understand that this Act wants to promote road safety, but we can't see how the demerit system alone can do this," says Rudie Heyneke, OUTA's transport portfolio manager.

"We need visible policing and a clear explanation of the delivery of fines."

Speaking to Business Insider, Heyneke said the infringement fines, which are income for many municipalities, will now be centralised under one system with the Act.

Another issue the organisation has is how fines will reach drivers.

"They do not intend to pay sheriffs to deliver fines to people's doors, not everyone has a post box and not everyone has email," he says. "People will lose their licences without knowing it."

According to Heyneke, the tracking mechanisms of these fines are not properly in place.

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