Statement by Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Year after year, Easter and the December Festive season prove to be the most crucial times of our road safety efforts and for Road Traffic Management Authorities in the province.
The short Easter period, more-so, brings with it high traffic volumes concentrated over the four-day period, with many taking to our roads headed to their holiday destinations or home. As we launch our operational plan today, we are confident that, with the help and partnership of all road users, we will be able to ensure that their travel on our roads is safe, and that they make it to and from their holiday destinations unscathed.
Joint Operations with SAPS, RTMC
Local and Provincial Traffic Departments, the National Traffic Police Unit (RTMC), Municipal Police as well as the SAPS and other Law enforcement agencies will all be involved in this weekend’s various operations.
Our training traffic officers from the Gene Louw Traffic College will also be deployed at various provincial traffic centres to assist in these operations. By working together we can have the biggest impact in making our roads safer.
We will be conducting various joint operations with SAPS across the province targeted mainly at public transport, focusing on issues such as:
- Driver fitness.
- Vehicle fitness.
- Load management.
- Dangerous driver behaviour.
- Pedestrian behaviour.
Traffic law enforcement agencies will also have operations aimed at preventing the transportation of illegal substances, driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and fatigue management.
This time last year, we were very grateful to receive, over and above our compliment, an additional 22 officers, 10 vehicles and a helicopter from the RTMC’s National Traffic Police Unit who assisted in operations. This year will be no exception.
Our partnership extended to the festive season where more lives were saved through our collective efforts. Pooling our joint efforts is an excellent example of co-operative government in action. As the leading province in terms of reducing fatalities on our roads, we hope that the NTPU will take lessons learned here to both the national Department of Transport as well as the other provinces.
Since 2009, we have seen high fatalities over the Easter weekend due to the ever-increasing number of vehicles, bound for various destinations, on our roads during this time. Over the past four Easter weekends, the fatalities have been:
- 2009: 21
- 2010: 28
- 2011: 7
- 2012: 20
- 2013: 14
What is very clear of this period, as is the case for most periods throughout the year, is the high proportion of pedestrian and drivers/passengers death, heightened during Easter and the Festive Season.
The fatality rate on roads in the province has been reduced from 1 739 for the year ended December 2008 to
1 216 for the year ended December 2013 through our Safely Home Campaign.
The success of the campaign has been rooted in innovation, partnership, and a commitment to the “safe” principles: safe speeds, safe people, safe roads, and safe vehicles.
We have also been re-running our very successful seatbelt campaign radio advertisements, “It Takes a Second to Save a Life”, on local radio stations leading up to this busy period. These advertisements will continue to raise awareness about seatbelt compliance and the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt.
Our successful Fatigue Management campaign (which has seen a marked drop in the amount of fatal public transport crashes) will continue on all of our major routes to combat the serious threats to safety posed by fatigued drivers.
Long-distance public transport is required to have at least two drivers available for these long trips. We are very happy that our road safety partners in the mini-bus taxi industry travelling on the long-distance routes have realised the serious threat to passenger safety posed by a fatigued driver and are also ensuring that not one driver is behind the wheel for long periods of time on this cross-province trips.
SANTACO continues to support our safety efforts through its own safety campaign “Hlokomela”, which will has been instrumental in the past. Weighbridges, across the province, will be utilised to inspect heavy vehicles to ensure compliance, and our impoundment facilities will be on hand to impound vehicles that are deemed unfit for travel.
Our Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement technology which has, since last Easter, been extended from the R61 (Beaufort West to Aberdeen) to the N1 (Three sisters to Beaufort West, then to Laingsburg), and further on to the R27 (Melboschstrand to Saldanha).
This means that a total of 351.1kms of the province’s most dangerous roads are now covered by the ASOD system, which has seen close to a 50% reduction in speeding offenses recorded since the initial implementation of the system, as well as a sharp decline in the number of fatal crashes on these stretches of road.
Restraints enforcement, particularly backseat passenger restraints, will also be a main focus over this Easter Weekend, and we call on both passengers and drivers to ensure that they are buckled-up before any journey, and also to be vocal in reporting reckless and irresponsible driving to our Provincial Traffic Radio Control Centre.
Provincial Traffic Radio Control Centre
Tel: 021 812 4581/2
We continue to urge all motorists, particularly during this Easter Weekend, to:
- 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.
Motorists are also urged to be extra vigilant during 18:00 and 21:00 when most crashes are recorded on our roads.
In doing so, we can ensure that after our various travels, we all get Safely Home.