Smart enforcement technology deployed over Festive Season makes positive impact
Statement by Donald Grant and Kenny Africa, Minister of Transport and Public Works and Provincial Traffic Chief
Festive season periods are always the busiest time on our roads, with thousands of vehicles making trips in and out of the province, towards their various holiday destinations. Increased vehicle numbers were recorded along the main routes and at various checkpoints. Throughout this time, we also had our dedicated law enforcement officials, both provincial and municipal traffic services, our Safely Home teams, and our various road safety partners out in full force in a concerted attempt to make our roads safer.
This past festive season (1 December 2018 to 31 January 2019) was markedly different as for the first time, a full complement of smart enforcement technologies were deployed across the province to bolster our efforts of increasing compliance and saving more lives on our roads. These Smart Enforcement Technology interventions include:
- Handheld devices which have enabled our officials to have direct roadside access to verify the validity of driving and motor vehicle licences, professional driving permits, speeding offences at all our Average Speed Over Distance sites across our province (with 490 Provincial Traffic and 40 trainee traffic officer students trained in the use of these devices).
- Brand new vehicles fitted with automatic number plate recognition software dashcams.
- Average Speed Over Distance camera enforcement technology, which now covers over 450kms of the province’s busiest roads.
- Technological advancement to monitor drivers as part of our Fatigue Management Awareness Programme targeted at drivers travelling long distances.
- Three Mobile Alcohol Evidentiary Units deployed at strategic locations across the province to aid our successful Random Breath Testing (RBT) operations.
Together with the citizens of the Western Cape we continue to prioritise safety on our roads. This has resulted in some notable successes in our fight against the scourge of road deaths in this province.
This past festive season saw a 6% decrease in overall fatalities (down from 262 to 246). A notable decrease was recorded in pedestrian deaths (down from 104 to 91). Pedestrian deaths remain the leading class of fatality in this province.
Comparative Festive Seasons breakdown:
|1 December 2017 to 31 January 2018||1 December 2018 to 31 January 2019|
|Road User||Deaths||Road User||Deaths|
|Fell off Vehicle||4||Fell off Vehicle||0|
Safely Home activities over the Festive Season
This past festive season, our Safely Home campaign focussed on addressing the scourge of drinking and driving (as well as drinking and walking) on our roads. Our campaign, #BoozeFreeRoadsAlcohol, focusses on the simple message that 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.
Approximately R1.1 million was spent on media aimed at raising awareness during December and January, particularly on our smart enforcement technologies, with an additional R450 000 spent on ongoing social media campaigns as part of the Safely Home Calendar which we run all year.
We are very pleased with the reach that the campaign has had on various media platforms, particularly online, with citizens engaging with the campaign content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and in broadcast media.
The campaign is still live on the Safely Home website, www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za, twitter: @WCGovSafelyHome hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, and is supported by radio advertisements on various leading radio stations, and VMS message board messages on busy highways. #BoozeFreeRoads is specifically targeted at both motorists and pedestrians, with drinking and road use (driving and walking) proving to be a deadly combination on our roads.
We have made every effort to maximise the reach of the campaign and have increased awareness around the dangers of mixing alcohol with roads. We hope that the campaign has influenced the minds of all citizens, encouraging them to be safe and responsible road users.
Successful deployment of Smart Enforcement Technology
Over this past Festive Season, our smart enforcement technologies that we deployed allowed us to tighten up on various enforcement practices, and made our officers more effective in the field. We are confident that our continued investment in technology will place us in good stead as we tackle the enforcement challenges of the future.
One example how technology has been invaluable in enforcement is the number of arrests made over this period, 91, for motorists in possession of falsified documentation. 41 arrests for this particular crime had been made over the previous Festive Season. This is due to the effective use of our handheld devices which are able to immediately detect if documentation presented to traffic authorities has in fact been falsified. The handheld devices have proven to be a very important tool, not only for enforcement, but also for crime prevention.
This festive season, The Western Cape Government has made every effort to bolster enforcement and improve safety on our roads. Our Provincial and Municipal traffic officers worked hard to ensure efficient and effective enforcement across the province, on all main arteries, particularly in hotspot areas where incidents have been known to occur.
Our operational objectives have been to:
- Promote a safe and reliable road user environment on our road networks.
- Prevent all possible loss of life and road user crash fatalities.
- Regulate pedestrian behaviour and reduce fatalities.
- Encourage voluntary road user compliance during the festive season.
Our enforcement activities over the past two months have yielded positive results, including:
- Various traffic law enforcement operations, where a total of 282 297 vehicles were stopped, checking for things such as vehicle fitness, overloading, and fatigue.
- 398 K78 roadblocks were conducted where 54 977 drivers were screened for alcohol, while 77 353 vehicles were weighed at either the fixed or mobile weighbridges.
- A total of 1001 vehicles were discontinued, while 272 vehicles were impounded.
- Various arrests were made over this period, including 519 for drinking and driving, 30 for excessive speeding, and 91 for false documentation.
It is clear the difference that deploying smart enforcement technologies has made over this past Festive Season, all contributing to the decrease in the number of lives lost over this period. The lessons we continue to learn as enforcement authorities from this past festive season, and other busy periods, continue to inform our approaches and interventions for the future. We will continue to make use of our limited resources strategically, to yield the most optimal results for the people of the Western Cape.
While the situation on our roads remains dangerous in many ways, we are encouraged by the progress we continue to make with the people of the Western Cape.
I should like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of our partners over this Festive Season, and particularly to our dedicated men and women in blue, our traffic officers, who have been exemplary in the execution of their duties.
Our statistics, and responses to our campaigns, continue to show a gradual change in behaviour and attitudes towards road safety amongst road users in the province. Together, we are continuing to make our roads safer, and are seeing an increased number of citizens take responsibility for their lives, as well as the lives of others. Through our Safely Home campaign, we have continued to raise awareness, change behaviour, and make a noticeable difference to the carnage on our roads.
We will continue to learn from the past, to guide the life-saving decisions we make in the future. I call on all road users to continue to work with us in making our roads safe.