South Africa: Joint Media Release By Western Cape Ministries - Dan Plato, Community Safety - Robin Carlisle, Transport and Theuns Botha of Health During the 2012/2013 Festive Season Safely Home Road Safety Plan

press release

The following media release is a summary of the speeches made at the launch event which took place at the Hugenot Toll Plaza in Paarl this morning.

Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato

As the festive season is a critical period for all road traffic law enforcement agencies, SAPS, government departments, and our various strategic partners in the Western Cape; we have again adopted an integrated approach to ensure the safety of all on our roads.

The festive season brings a significant increase in vehicles travelling on the National and Provincial road network within and across the Western Cape leading to other Provinces. It also brings with it the celebration of religious holidays, festivities, sporting events, concerts, and school closures in 2012 and the reopening of schools in 2013. This increase in volume naturally raises the increase of potential risk.

This year the primary objectives of our road safety campaign will be on the following: Reducing road trauma and serious injuries, reducing crashes and fatalities, as well as contributing towards the reduction in crime in general.

We will be focusing on road safety education through maximising communication and publicity exposure on enforcement and road safety issues.

Promoting good road user behaviour and encouraging motorists to comply voluntarily with our officers and the road rules.

We will increase the detection and prosecution of road traffic offences by having all staff on duty, and will once again run a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation.

We will also have road blocks throughout the province and will stop and check at least 200 000 vehicles during the 2012/13 Festive season.

In promoting our whole of society approach towards improving safety and in giving meaning to our motto - Better Together - our traffic officials will be handing out disposable breathalyzers to motorists at road blocks around the country. Please, use them; they could save your life, or the life of someone else.

Driver behaviour is vital to the success of our operations, we can do as much as we'd like to promote and ensure road safety, but if a motorist has no respect for the rules of the road he chooses not to benefit from our initiatives and puts himself and others in harm's way.

I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all motorists in the Western Cape - Switch on your headlights over the festive season, and please exercise patience, there will be congestion at times, this is just a natural result of everyone wanting to experience the same fun and festivities as you do. Be patient, and our traffic officers will do their best to ease the situation.

I would also like to encourage all road users to please report any traffic violation or incident to our 24/7 hotline on 021 946 1646. You can also call this number for traffic information.

To thank our provincial traffic staff in the Western Cape I recently sent out personal thank you cards to them, for all their hard work over the year, and for sacrificing a time when many of us will be spending time without families so that they can ensure your safety on our roads. I would like to once again say thank you.

Minister of Transport, Robin Carlisle calls on motorists to play their part

Every year, the festive season rolls around bringing with it heavy commuter volumes on the province's roads. Last year, between 1 December 2011 and 31 January 2012, 243 people were killed on the province's roads. The province is determined to bring that number down significantly and call upon all road users to be extra vigilant this festive season to ensure that they and their families arrive safely at their destinations.

Motorists must:

Not speed

Not drink and drive

Be extra mindful of pedestrians (who make up half of all the fatalities in the province)

Not use cellphones while driving

Ensure that they buckle up, and most importantly that children in the vehicle are buckled up

We are on track to reduce road deaths by 50% by December 2014. As of the end of November, we have reduced the fatalities by 29%. Over the next two months, I want to see that reduction go well past the 30% mark.

Safely Home activities over this festive season include:

Our new Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera network enforcement system on 31.7km of road on the Three Sisters - Beaufort West to Laingsburg "death stretch" of road, adding to the already existing 71.6km ASOD system on the Beaufort West to Aberdeen (R61) stretch.

A partnership with South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) "Hlokomela" project, whose goal it is to "change the face of the taxi industry", through its road safety initiative. Industry leaders will be assisting our officials at ranks and road blocks to identify unroadworthy vehicles and address drivers on safety and the need for regular rests.

Various enforcement efforts that include Fatigue Management and other joint operational roadblocks planned for the season.

And other activities centred around speeding, drunk driving, and pedestrians (who now account for half of the total fatalities in the province)

The province will also be offering a cash opportunity to drivers who remain fine-free over the festive season. Two prizes of R25 000 each will be given to drivers drawn at random - provided that they are "fine-free" over the festive season.

It is important for all road users to begin to identify themselves with the many that make responsible decisions on the road and value their lives, as well as the lives of others. The burden of ensuring that we get Safely Home falls equally on us all, from drivers, cyclists, passengers, to motor-cyclists and pedestrians. We are ALL road users; we all need to respect each other; and we all need to take responsibility for ourselves.

Minister of Health, Theuns Botha

The Department of Health's plans for the festive season will run from 7 December until 13 January 2013, a day before schools reopen. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) presence will be visible on all major arterial routes out of Cape Town, as well as provide life support services at major beaches on event days.

Our plans address the handling of injuries on the road, medical and trauma related incidents, drownings, violence as a result of alcohol abuse, as well as Wilderness search and rescue and support air services.

EMS will be present on the N1, N2, N7, R62, R61 and R27, and medical response teams will be on standby to support staff at rural hospitals. This year we will also be working with taxi operators to facilitate the transport of stranded passengers. Cross border assistance will be rendered on the N1 and N7 for the Northern Cape, and on the N2, R61 and N12 for the Eastern Cape.

Ambulances will be distributed across the highways and arterial routes, with the majority in the metropole. On the days when large scale partying is anticipated, EMS will have satellite operational points with incident commanders at select points such as the Waterfront.

Our health and EMS staff will also be working while our holiday makers enjoy themselves, so please support them when you encounter them and work with them to make our roads a safer place for all.

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