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Understanding company responsibilities under Aarto

RMI members and businesses in general are, on an on-going basis, challenged with costly and sometimes controversial regulatory compliance matters, the most recent being the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and Amendment Bill. The implementation and consequences for business was, and still is, the topic of much discussion since the Amendment Bill was passed in August.
What I believe is pertinent is that companies need to understand their responsibilities as well as ways to protect themselves from possible liability relating to employees’ driving offences.
While there is no proxy system when it comes to the demerit system, companies are responsible for their company fleet, and need to ensure a system is in place for company drivers to comply with the Aarto Act.
In many cases business owners serve as the representatives of the company on behalf of their fleet. While the Aarto Amendment Bill is quite clear that company representatives cannot lose points on behalf of company drivers, they have to ensure demerits accrue to the correct person.
Every company must have a responsible person who is ultimately accountable for dealing with licencing, roadworthiness, as well as traffic fines issues. It will fall on the responsible person of a company to be answerable so as to ensure that all provisions of the National Road Traffic Act and the Aarto Act are complied with. Where they are not, they will need to assign the blame to the natural person who was caught committing an infringement. The most common infringements are those received in the mail (a camera fine) and addressed to the company, with the responsible person’s name and ID number also on it. Infringements or offences for which the driver is stopped for at the time of commission would be written up in the driver’s name at that time.
Not keeping a register of the driver or person in control, while not specifically mentioned in the Aarto Act, becomes an infringement under the obligation that does exist of ‘failing to obtain the particulars of a driver prior to letting them exercise control over that vehicle’. For the first time in traffic legislation in this country, companies and organisations are required by legislation to record these details. It is vital that the address details on record with eNatis are correct and up-to-date so that infringement notices are deliverable to the correct person. The Aarto Act deems all notices that have been posted to the last known address of the infringer to have been received 10 days after posting by registered mail.
Companies need to include an Aarto clause in employment contracts for all employees who will be exposed to the demerit system. This must include company reps, delivery drivers, and so on. This clause must allow the employer access to the employee’s demerit history. The reason for this is once someone has received 13 demerit points they are no longer allowed to drive a vehicle. The employer can be held responsible if the employee drives after that.
Unfortunately, currently there is no system available from authorities where demerit points accrued can be monitored in a real-time live database.
I highly recommend that company representatives take the time to familiarise themselves with Aarto.