Transport minister Fikile Mbalula will appeal last week’s high court ruling that put the brakes on the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) and its driving licence points-demerit system.
The Aarto Act was a deterrent to bad behaviour on our roads, he said in response to the January 13 Pretoria high court ruling declaring the Aarto act invalid and unconstitutional.
The judge found in favour of civil rights action group Outa, which challenged Aarto’s constitutional validity. Outa and the AA have criticised Aarto for being geared towards revenue collection instead of promoting road safety, with the AA saying it was a waste of taxpayers’ money which had done nothing to remedy SA's shocking road death rate.
Speaking at the release of the festive season road fatalities at Grasmere toll plaza on Tuesday, Mbalula said: “The importance of Aarto in driving behaviour change of motorists and providing disincentives for unbecoming conduct cannot be over emphasised. It is for this reason we have decided to appeal the ruling of the Pretoria high court.”
He said parliament was also seized with proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act to reduce the permissible alcohol limit for motorists.
“This is before parliament, and we believe this is an important element in our efforts to arrest the scourge of fatalities on our roads,” he said.
Mbalula said 1,685 people died on roads in the past festive season, a 14% increase over the previous year. This was partly attributable to there being more vehicles on the road than in the 2020/2021 festive season, when there more severe lockdown restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Road fatalities increased in seven provinces and declined in two, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
In the 42 day Arrive Alive campaign from December 1 to January 11, traffic officers conducted 651 roadblocks throughout the country and issued 264,690 fines for traffic offences. Of these, 21,431 were for drivers who failed to wear seatbelts while 22,766 were for people driving without licences.
Enforcement placed great emphasis on speed reduction, seatbelt compliance, drunk driving, pedestrian safety and patrolling dangerous routes at times when dangerous conditions were prevalent.
Mbalula said the main causes of road fatalities over this period were jaywalking, speeding, wet or slippery road surfaces, overtaking across barrier lines and poor visibility. Human factors contributed 79% to the occurence of fatal crashes while road factors contributed 11% and vehicle factors 10%.
A driver with the highest alcohol level of 2.43mg was arrested in Johannesburg on December 22. There were 605 drivers arrested for driving at excessive speeds between 190-220km/h.
To clamp down on drunken driving and other moving violations, officers arrested 6,169 motorists, and 1,586 of these were for drunken driving.
A total of 4,251 unroadworthy vehicles were discontinued and 4,073 were impounded.
Nationally, pedestrians decreased from 41% of the overall fatalities to 31%.
Over the past festive season, the Eastern Cape recorded the largest decline with a 7.9% reduction from 228 to 210 fatalities.
KwaZulu-Natal recorded a 6.5% decline in fatalities from 275 to 294 in the same period last year.
The Northern Cape recorded the highest increase, up 97% from 33 to 65 fatalities.
The Western Cape recorded a 55.6% increase from 133 to 207 fatalities.
Limpopo recorded a 16.5% increase from 194 to 226 fatalities.
Gauteng recorded a 15.5% increase from 238 fatalities to 275.
Free State recorded a 7.2% increase from 111 to 119 fatalities.
North West recorded a 25.3% increase from 95 to 119 fatalities.
Mpumalanga recorded a 24.3% increase from 152 to 189 fatalities.