Safely Home Festive Season Campaign Aims To Save Lives
Excerpt of speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works at the official launch of the 2015/2016 Western Cape Festive Season Traffic Operational Plan at the Huguenot Tunnel on the N1.
My sincere thanks for you all being here today. Your continued support of our road safety activities and initiatives shows a shared commitment to improving safety on our roads during this special time of the year. Each year, the warm weather and holiday ethos bring with them heavy commuter volumes on most of the province’s roads as holidaymakers make their way to their various destinations. What is supposed to be a time of joy is too often marred by reckless behaviour and peaking fatalities.
Between 1 December 2014 and 31 January 2015, a record low of 197 people were killed on the province’s roads. Although the number remains far too high, it does, however, show that we continue to move in the right direction in our fight against road carnage, and to make our roads safer for all who use them. The Western Cape Government, through our Safely Home initiative, is determined to decrease that number further. We call on all road users to be extra vigilant this festive season to ensure that they and their families arrive safely at their destinations.
Festive Seasons breakdown:
- December 2010/January 2011: 263
- December 2011/January 2012: 247
- December 2012/January 2013: 230
- December 2013/ January 2014: 221
- December 2014/ January 2015: 197
We know that the cost of road deaths, both human and economic cost, demands our urgent intervention. The road death pandemic simply cannot be ignored. Road injuries and death in this province alone cost the Western Cape economy an estimated R21 billion, with an even more staggering R306 billion cost to South Africa, due to the loss of some 17 000 people annually on our roads. The continued loss of life on our roads robs this country of resources that could be directed at improving the delivery of essential services to many that need it.
No road safety initiative can succeed, particularly over the festive season, without a focussed campaign against drinking and driving (as well as drinking and walking). Alcohol and road use simply don’t mix, as is evidenced by the significant role that alcohol continues to play in a majority of crashes that we see on our roads. The consumption of alcohol, even in relatively small amounts, increases the risk of being involved in a crash for motorists and pedestrians. Not only does alcohol impair processes critical to safe road use, such as vision and reaction time, it is also associated with poor judgement and so is often linked to other high-risk road use behaviours such as speeding or not using seat-belts.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), research indicates that in many countries considerable proportions of drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians have alcohol in their blood in sufficient concentrations to impair their road use skills. The World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention identifies the effectiveness of programmes aimed at drinking and driving as a proven effective measure to reduce death and injury on the road.
Mindful of the significant role that alcohol plays in road deaths; our Safely Home initiative has recently launched a multimedia campaign focussed on the dangers associated with alcohol and road use.
The campaign went live on the Safely Home website, Twitter under the hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, and is supported by radio advertisements on various leading radio stations, and VMS message board messages on busy highways.
#BoozeFreeRoads was specifically targeted at both motorists and pedestrians, with drinking and driving, as well as drinking and walking as both are proving to be a deadly combination on our roads.
The Western Cape Government has made every effort to ensure safe roads over the festive season. Our Provincial traffic officers remain the only ones who operate a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year traffic enforcement service. This will be intensified over the upcoming festive season.
There will be more round-the-clock enforcement operations over this festive season focussed on:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Excessive speed.
- Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD).
- Driver Fatigue management.
- Driver/vehicle fitness.
- Distracted driving.
- Pedestrian safety.
- Seatbelt compliance.
- Inter provincial operations.
- Licencing plates.
- Safe following distances.
- Transportation of illegal substances/elicit cigarettes.
We are also currently running a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about our “Number Plate Recognition Safety Cameras”, which are now in place throughout the province as part of the Average Speed Over Distance network, and will immediately pick up if there are any transgressions associated with the vehicle.
The PSAs are being broadcast across the Western Cape in three languages, and were recorded by our Provincial Traffic Chief, Mr Kenny Africa. The aim of these PSAs is to send a clear message to all road users, encouraging them to be vigilant about checking their vehicle roadworthy status, driver and vehicle licensing, etc. before taking to the road on their various journeys. Ensuring that your vehicle is in a proper condition to take to the roads also improves safety. We will be dedicating additional enforcement resources to arrest any transgressors picked up by the system.
I urge all motorists:
- Not to speed.
- Not to drink and drive.
- To be extra mindful of pedestrians (who make up close to half of all the fatalities in the province).
- Not to use cellphones while driving.
- To ensure that they buckle up, and most importantly that children in the vehicle are buckled up.
Motorists must also exercise extreme caution when travelling on the roads this festive season, particularly at the identified hotspots for incidents and crashes, namely; the R27 West Coast; the N1, N2, N7; as well as the R300. Enforcement activities will also be focussed on these locations.
Apart from roadside activities, traffic officials will also promote visible traffic policing and operational readiness, including the further implementation of our successful “sticker project”, targeted specifically at public transport vehicles that will be embarking on long trips across the province, and beyond, transporting thousands of holiday-makers to their various destinations.
I should like to take this opportunity to extend a word of thanks to our partners in the SAPS, Municipal traffic authorities and the Metro Police, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town, Emergency Medical Services, the PRE, Disaster Management, SARS, the NPA, SANRAL, the RTMC, and SANTACO. Without your valued partnership and shared commitment, very little could be achieved in this very important endeavour. We truly are Better Together, and our collective efforts will continue to save lives on our roads.