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New measures to keep SA roads safe

The review of laws on the use of blue lights by private vehicles and the reintroduction of the dragger are amongst the measures to deal with drunken driving and the state of road safety in South Africa.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has announced measures aimed at improving safety on SA roads.A dragger is an alcohol-screening device.

These measures were announced following the release of the State of Safety Report recently.

The report was presented to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), in Boksburg.

The report highlighted bad behaviour and negative attitudes by road users. It identified alcohol abuse, dangerous overtaking, vehicle fitness as well as pedestrian negligence as five major causes to crashes over the past five months.

The report showed that during the five-month period, there were 10.3 million registered vehicles in the country with the majority of them in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. However, the majority of crashes took place in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Between April and August, the country witnessed 4 528 crashes resulting in 5 433 deaths. A high number of deaths occurred in the months of May and August, as compared to other months.

Minister Peters said during a media briefing that despite numerous legal challenges on the use of the dragger that leads to the use of it as illegal, the department had finally satisfied the legal requirements of the use of it.

“We will religiously ensure that the introduction and reinforcement of the dragger is rolled out throughout the country,” said Minister Peters. 

Key to the requirements include that authorities have to buy the equipment and traffic officers must be trained on how to use the equipment.

“The NPA under the guidance from Adv Van der Vijver is in the process of developing guidelines to be used by prosecutions,” the Minister said, adding that the reintroduction of the dragger will be managed with extreme caution to avoid unsuccessful prosecutions.

Improving safety

In a bid to improve safety the AGM also decided that there should be heightened, integrated and targeted law enforcement operation in the top six corridors, which were identified as routes with the highest traffic volumes.

The top six corridors include N1 between Pretoria – Polokwane and Beitbridge, N2 between Somerset West and Cape Town, N3 between Johannesburg and Cape Town, N4 between Pretoria, Nelspruit and Lebombo, N1 between Mangaung and Cape Town as well as the R61 between Aberdeen and Beaufort West.

Other measures include periodic, integrated operations focussed on checking the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles, buses, taxis and scholar transport with fines of R50 000 imposed on impounded heavy vehicles and R15 000 for light vehicles.

“The laws authorising private vehicle testing centres should be reviewed with a view to clamping down on non-compliant private centres. There should be a dedicated attention to stray animals and interventions on fencing, provision of animal reflective belts and animal identification tags.

“There should be a review of regulation on the utilisation of blue lights by private vehicles. Mobile roadworthiness testing equipment should be deployed in all provinces and in rural areas to reduce risky un-roadworthy vehicles on the roads,” Minister Peters said.

Transport infrastructure

Transport infrastructure and services are important for economic development, job creation and social transformation. During the current MTSF period the Department of transport will:

  • Oversee the establishment of a rolling stock factory in Ekhurleni,
  • Upgrade the R573 Moloto road, roll out integrated public transport networks in thirteen cities.
  • Renegotiate and improve air services agreements on the continent to facilitate mobility of goods and people, reform the port tariff structure to promote beneficiation
  • Improve ship register and enhance cargo volumes, maintenance of provincial roads, development of private sector participation framework and infrastructure funding framework.

The upgrade of Moloto road will create about 10 000 job opportunities, and the rolling stock jobs are estimated at 65 000.

A further 7 900 jobs will be created from the integrated public transport network programme and another 61 00 jobs will ensue from the provincial road maintenance scheme.

Did you know?

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) plans to introduce a 24-hour shift for traffic officers to keep roads safe. The RTMC will work with provincial traffic authorities to strengthen law enforcement on the roads to help bring down the number of road accidents and deaths.

The cooperation also plans to deal with corrupt driving schools that work with licensing officers to issue drivers’ licenses illegally.

Traffic officers will also receive further training and development skills to enforce overload control, dangerous goods transportation, vehicle examination, license examination, road traffic information and road traffic legislation.