28 December 2012

South Africa: Transport Minister Concerned At Road Carnage

Pretoria — Transport Minister Ben Martins has expressed concern at the number of deaths on South African roads, which has reached over 1 000 since 1 December.

The minister and his deputy Sindi Chikunga have been receiving regular daily updates from the Road Traffic Management Corporation about the situation on the country's roads since the start of the festive season.

"The reports we have been receiving thus far are cause for concern. It cannot be considered normal that despite all efforts by government, private sector and civil society to enforce the rules of the road and raise awareness about road safety, we continue to witness the loss of lives on our roads at this scale," said Martins.

Over 1 000 people have so far lost their lives due to road crashes since 1 December 2012.

Martins warned that the days of habitual road transgressors were numbered as their dangerous actions would catch up with them.

The minister has already instructed law enforcement officers to adopt a zero tolerance approach when dealing with offenders on the road.

"Those who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs must be locked up for they pose a danger not only to themselves but to society as a whole. Those who speed beyond set limits must be removed from our roads for their irresponsible actions threaten the sustainability of society," he said.

The major causes of fatal crashes include unsafe and dangerous overtaking, driving under the influence of alcohol as well as excessive speeding.

"There's nothing that's worth your life that cannot wait. Take a minute and think about your loved ones who will bear the brunt of your loss..." said Martins.

There was a serious and urgent need for national dialogue about the current state of affairs regarding road fatalities. Martins said individuals needed to reflect on what their role was in ensuring road safety.

Government would continue to enforce the law as well as review the current legislation where necessary, and it was important for other sectors of society to come to the party.

The department will in the coming year unveil a new Road Safety Partnership, which will seek to forge a common national approach to the fight against road carnage. The Partnership will include government at all levels and state owned companies, private sector and civil society.

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