Last week, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act was lambasted in the media, being dubbed as a 'money-making' scheme. Among other complaints, members of the public take issue with the fact that they need to pay to check on how many demerit points they have accumulated on their drivers licences to avoid the risk of having their licences suspended. This will be particularly an issue for those who need to regularly provide such information to their employer if required.
Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has requested the public to submit their recommended changes to the regulations of the AARTO Act. While the recommendations are coming in, this is an opportune time to discuss what impact the AARTO Act will have on your business.
“AARTO legislation,” says Justine Weddell: attorney at Kirchmanns Incorporated, ”has the potential to affect your workplace in several respects. The first notable issue is that AARTO requires that all vehicle owners keep record of the details of any person driving their vehicle.” This means that a business will have to ensure that strict measures are in place for monitoring the usage of company vehicles as a business will need to identify drivers who incur infringements while using company vehicles so that liability can be appropriately assigned. “
As a business who employs people as drivers, you will need to ensure that there is a process to monitor demerit points obtained by drivers because there is risk that a driver may have his licence suspended should he/she exceed 12 points. The temporary incapacitation of the driver will negatively impact the operations of a business. Thus, we can appreciate the frustration of the cost implications for keeping up to date on the status of demerit points. It should be noted that notices and confirmation of payments from the RTIA will include a driver’s demerit points every time there is an infringement however, it is yet to be seen effective the service of such correspondence will be. Currently there is anticipation that service will take place electronically as envisaged in the AARTO Amendments Act. This amendment has likewise been met with controversy.
In addition, businesses will need to review maintenance protocol on company vehicles and vehicles which require an operator licence as issues with the roadworthiness of the vehicle could result in the demobilisation of company assets. “Ultimately, there is risk and liability for businesses with AARTO. This means that a proper understanding of AARTO is required to mitigate risk,” says Weddell.
What HR policies would you need to change to comply with AARTO?
The first policy that should be looked at is your company vehicle policy and/or any other standard operating procedures (SOPs) that regulate the use of company-owned or rented vehicles including vehicles used as a pool vehicle or vehicles driven by employees in their capacity as a driver.
An employer should amend its contracts of employment and establish procedures to monitor driver infringements to manage risk of incapacitation as well as disciplinary offences. “It is important that employees are made aware of the implications of AARTO through the introduction of either an AARTO policy or with appropriate amendments to existing vehicle policies as well as the disciplinary code,” concludes Weddell, “so that you are protected from possible cases of disgruntled employees who are dismissed.”