10 December 2012

South Africa: Statement By Minister Robin Carlisle - Festive Season Carnage Must Be Stopped

Photo: cornstaruk
The N1 between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

press release

Motor cars to be held for four hours if driver is deemed to be fatigued.

In the first 9 days of December, 59 people were killed on Western Cape roads. This is far in excess of last year, and the worst fatalities we have had in three years.

This carnage is despite the intensive and extensive measures in force on our roads over the festive season. Accordingly, I welcome the new and very far reaching measures to counter drunken driving recently announced by the National Prosecuting Authority. These measures mean that drunk drivers who manage to avoid blood testing may, nevertheless, still be sentenced to long jail terms as the State would no longer have to rely only on blood tests for convictions.

In addition, I have decided to call on all law enforcement agencies to pull over sedans and trucks, in addition to taxis and buses, for the purpose of assessing whether or not the drivers are fatigued, as well as for the carrying out of other safety checks.

In terms of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 Section 3I (f), a traffic officer may: " if a person, being the driver or the person apparently in charge of a motor vehicle appears, by reason of his or her physical or mental condition, howsoever arising, to be incapable for the time being of driving or being in charge of that vehicle, temporarily forbid the person to continue to drive or be in charge of that vehicle and make the arrangements for the safe disposal or placing of the vehicle as in his or her opinion may be necessary or desirable in the circumstances".

Therefore vehicle drivers who, in the opinion of a traffic officer, are fatigued, will be asked to park in a safe area, and their keys will be removed for 4 hours, after which the keys will be returned and the drivers may then resume their journey.

This will not be necessary if there is another licensed - and not fatigued - driver in the vehicle to take over the driving. I trust that all road users will understand that we cannot permit a fatigued driver to continue to operate a vehicle, knowing that fatigue may lead, as it has done several times in recent days, to very serious crashes.

A fatigued driver is just as dangerous as a drunken driver. I regret that I was earlier correctly reported to have said that I was not certain what the law was, but would so act whatever it said.

I feel very passionate about road safety, and deeply concerned about the current carnage. However, I always operate within the law, and I apologise for my comments. I am glad to now confirm that we would, indeed, be acting fully within the law.

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