TRANSPORT: How Demerit System Can Help
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE impending demerit fine system, to be introduced nationwide this year in terms of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Act (AARTO), will benefit fleet operators in the long run if it is managed correctly, says Avis Fleet Services managing director Laurence Savage.
In terms of the Act, drivers will start with zero points and will accumulate points for each traffic act offense. The maximum number of points allowed is 12 and every point exceeding 12 will result in a three month suspension of the driver’s licence. A licence will be permanently revoked once it has been suspended for the third time. However, in order to reward good driving, a point will be reduced every three months if no infringements occur within that period.
Savage says Avis Fleet Service has embraced the concept largely because of the need to reduce road fatalities, the official figure for which is about 17 000 people a year. “The fact that 90% of all road accidents are preceded by a traffic offence makes the improvement of perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of all road users all the more important.”
He says the biggest benefit to fleet operators will be increased driver responsibility and a reduction in fleet vehicle accidents.
However, the Act will have a major impact on corporate car policies and practices.
“Operational accountability is the fundamental issue that needs to be addressed,” says Savage. “The Act requires the licensed owner of a vehicle to be able to prove who was driving the vehicle at any point in time and, with regards to vehicle fleets, where more than one person drives a particular vehicle, the Act demands a greater clarification on ownership – and responsibility – to ensure that demerit points are not unfairly accredited to individuals.”
He says where in the past the focus on fleet management centred on the asset, a lot more attention will have to be paid on driver management.
Savage recommends that where possible, the responsible driver of company fleet vehicles should be registered as the ‘owner’, in order to best comply with the requirements of AARTO regulations. “AARTO will require stringent systems and processes,” Savage says. “It’s only logical that a company’s asset, invariably valued at about R120 000, would be assigned to a person to take accountability of its usage”. In turn, companies and financial providers – if the vehicle is financed – should be registered as the ‘title holder’.
He says pool cars would require a time and attendance system to maintain accurate information about who was using the vehicle at any particular time.
Fleet operators should also then consider the impact of this legislation on labour contracts. It is imperative that procedures are drawn up to ensure that employees are well informed of the implications and requirements of the Act as well as company policies in this regard.
In terms of the Act, an employer would need an employee’s written consent to obtain his or her demerit points record and, as such, labour contracts would need to be further reviewed, also with respect to drivers who have had their licences revoked and need transport in their line of work.
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