30 December 2012

South Africa: Department of Transport and Road Traffic Management Corporation Statement On Year End Road Safety Approach

press release

Festive seasons always present challenges and bring with them extra responsibilities to law enforcement officials.

Since the start of the festive season, we have witnessed heightened activities on all the country's major routes with holiday makers embarking on journeys to their various holiday destinations.

We have of course also witnessed some of the most horrific and gruesome crashes that have claimed over 1000 lives and left many others injured. The situation is a cause for concern and calls for drastic interventions and a complete mind-shift on the part of those who use our roads.

As the curtain draws close on 2012, everyone needs to take a moment and reflect on whether this is the kind of society we want. A society in which bread winners and loved ones are unnecessarily and prematurely taken away from their families. A society in which infants as young as 3 weeks old are robbed of their futures.

The rampant abuse of alcohol has come out as one of the major causes of deaths on our roads since 1 December 2012. According to the Medical Research Council's National Mortality Injury Survey, between 60-65% of all road fatalities especially those that occur over weekends, are as a result of alcohol abuse by motorists.

"Since the beginning of the festive season, just over 2000 motorists have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. These are people who deliberately ignore the dangers associated with driving under the influence of alcohol and go on to endanger the lives of other road users. Many other moving violations such as dangerous overtaking and excessive speeding at times have alcohol abuse as a common denominator," says Transport Minister Dikobe Ben Martins.

Drinking and walking (jay walking) by pedestrians is also another major challenge that requires urgent attention. At least 40% of road fatalities recorded annually in SA involve people walking on foot.

With just less than 48 hours to go before the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, our law enforcement officers including the RTMC's National Traffic Police, SA Police and Traffic Officers will once again have their hands full in trying to maintain law and order.

"They can only succeed in their efforts if they get the necessary cooperation and support from the very same people whose lives they are trying to save: members of the public. We therefore call on road users, motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike to play their part in ensuring that we put a halt to any further loss of lives on our roads," says Transport deputy Minister Sindi Chikunga.

The RTMC, provincial and local traffic authorities will be out in full force to ensure law and order on our roads. They will pay special attention to people driving under the influence of alcohol, excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking and other moving violations.

Speed limits along hazardous locations/routes will be enforced through handheld cameras, fixed cameras, average speed monitoring and through Moving Violation Recorders in marked and unmarked traffic vehicles.

"We have issued an instruction to our law enforcement officers to arrest and detain any person found to have committed any of the above violations that all have one common consequence: death. No person who takes alcohol in excess and still drives deserves to be on our roads. Such people should be taken away to a place wherein their barbaric deeds won't endanger the lives of other law-abiding citizens," says Minister Martins.

As part of the RTMC's "Woza Retest" campaign, drivers found guilty in a court of law of drinking and driving, excessive speeding and reckless or negligent driving will be subjected to a retest of both their leaners and divers licences to ensure competence, compliance and rehabilitation if they wish to continue driving.

"We wish to remind road users that a traffic violation is an act of criminality and a person can be charged, prosecuted and convicted for breaking the rules of the road. We have precedence in this regard where people are currently doing time or being pursued by the law for traffic violations particularly in instances wherein their irresponsible actions have had fatal consequences," says Minister Martins.

Motorists are urged to exercise extreme caution, travel with lights on during the day, adhere to all set speed limits, observe safe following distances and to take sufficient rest-stops.

Traffic volumes are expected to be on the rise today (Sunday) and tomorrow with major peaks expected from Wednesday onwards as holiday makers traveling back home.

Be part of the Decade of Action for Road Safety. Together we can save millions of lives.

Let's get there. No regrets.

Issued by: Department of Transport

30 Dec 2012

Issued by: Department of Transport

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