Johannesburg – Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele is confident the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto), to be implemented later this year, will significantly reduce road crashes and deaths.

“The implementation of Aarto and the Points Demerit System throughout South Africa, will certainly reduce lawlessness on our roads and contribute significantly to a reduction in road crashes and deaths,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“Aarto will also improve the overall safety of road users and encourage responsible road behaviour.”

The objectives of Aarto included penalising drivers and operators guilty of offences through the imposition of demerit points, leading to the suspension and cancellation of driving licences, professional driving permits or operator cards, he said.

Fixing claims ‘ludicrous’

According to preliminary reports, more than 1 100 people were killed on South Africa’s roads between December 1 and 31 2009.

Between January 1 and 6 2010, 103 fatalities were recorded.

Ndebele described as “ludicrous” claims that road fatality statistics were being doctored.

“We at the department of transport have constantly maintained that the number of road deaths in our country is totally unacceptable and that one death on our roads is one death too many. So why will we fiddle with statistics and what will we achieve by doing this?

“Our aim as government is to save lives. We therefore call upon any individual or organisation that is able to provide proof that the statistics were fiddled with to please come forward with such information.”

Saps verifies stats

He said the department, through the Road Traffic Management Corporation, released official road crash and road death statistics. These were verified with the police before being released.

“It has always been stated that December 2009 and January 2010 road death statistics released thus far were preliminary, and not final.

These statistics are regularly updated as and when received. Updated statistics for this period will be released later this month.”

From December 1 2009 to January 6 2010 about 720 000 vehicles and drivers were stopped and checked countrywide as part of the festive season’s Arrive Alive campaign.

More than 290 000 motorists were fined for speeding, 3 569 drunk drivers arrested, 262 motorists arrested for reckless or negligent driving, 2 849 unroadworthy vehicles taken off the roads – including 1 503 buses and taxis.

“Traffic volumes are expected to increase over the next few days as several people return home. Law enforcement officers will continue to be out in full force to ensure safety on the roads.”