|Aarto will void vehicle insurance|
Monday, 12 March 2012 10:40
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, with its current shortfalls within the pilot projects, could see motorists' vehicle insurance being voided.
For this reason, authorised financial services provider IntegriSure has welcomed the delay in the final implementation of the Act. Aarto will not be rolled out until government carries out provincial workshops on the system.
The Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (Savrala) also welcomed the delay. It hopes the Department of Transport will now return to a process of constructive and participative engagement at the Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
IntegriSure says the extra time before implementation will alleviate the threat that South African motorists could unknowingly be left uninsured.
According to CEO Helen Szemerei, doubts over the ability of the current system to issue notices correctly could have resulted in motorists driving with suspended licences, effectively voiding their insurance policies.
Some 60% of motorists' addresses stored on eNatis were found to be incorrect in a study commissioned by the Road Traffic Management Corporation, adds Szemerei.
“Under Aarto, motorists incur points on their licence for traffic offences. If they incur too many then their licence may be suspended for a fixed period of time. However, if this happens without their knowledge, motorists may be under the impression that their licence is valid and continue driving. If these motorists are involved in an accident, then their insurance policy is unlikely to pay out.
“We welcome the fact that government has postponed the launch of Aarto, as there were a number of concerns regarding how it would be implemented. We are firmly of the belief that SA does need to have this kind of system in place as driver behaviour in SA remains a huge challenge.”
Szemerei adds that, while Aarto is a positive step forward to encourage better driver behaviour, it is crucial that any administrative issues are addressed before it is implemented. “Projects similar to Aarto have been introduced with great success in other countries, such as the UK, which also operates a points system on driving licences. However, we do need to ensure that the roll-out of a local system is done in a fair manner, as insurers will want to make very sure the system does not unfairly prejudice any client.”
SA already has a huge problem in the motor insurance industry, with research suggesting that of all the vehicles on the roads, only around 35% are actually insured, according to the CEO. “It is critical that we do not worsen this already alarming situation by leaving those few motorists who do choose to take out an insurance policy in a precarious position by suspending their licences without their knowledge.”
Savrala highlights the need for government to make public the results of the Aarto pilot study so that all stakeholders can become aware of the lessons learnt and will be able to contribute to any proposed regulation changes in the future.
“Some of the key lessons learnt from the e-tolling process to date are that it is difficult for stakeholders to give productive input into a process when information is withheld by the Department of Transport.”
As the central focus of Aarto is to change driver behaviour, the association says it would like to see the current schedule of offences (over 3 000) get reduced to focus on the critical infringements that contribute to deaths on SA's roads.
“Savrala believes a simplified schedule of key offences would assist both consistent enforcement by the authorities and provide better understanding to the public road user. In addition, several of the key Aarto administrative processes could also be simplified to make the system more reliable, efficient and less expensive to implement. This, however, will require an open mind from the authorities when Aarto discussions once again commence with stakeholders.”
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