Focus on public transport and driver fatigue over Easter using new smart data
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
As this year’s Easter period fast approaches, the Western Cape Government and the Department of Transport and Public Works have devised a comprehensive enforcement plan aimed at ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors to our province. Our enforcement and awareness interventions have been designed to respond effectively to the expected increases in traffic volumes and vehicle activities that have become synonymous with this dangerous period.
This influx places additional pressure on all law enforcement agencies that monitor and control traffic to ensure the effective and safe flow of traffic. Increased traffic volumes are known to, in turn, result in the increased risk of crashes and serious injury on our roads.
Easter Fatality Statistics
The last five Easter periods (from 2014) have seen high (average 27) fatalities over the Easter weekend. Fatalities over these periods have been:
|17 April -21 April 2014||2 April – 6 April
|24 March – 28 March 2016||13 April – 17 April 2017||29 March – 2 April 2018|
|Class of Fatality|
With the Easter holiday season upon us, I call on all road users to be conscious of the rules of the road, and make safety everybody’s responsibility. We are seeing too many crashes caused by driver error (driver fatigue, speeding, drinking and driving). It is your responsibility as a driver on our roads to ensure that both you and your vehicle are ready for the journey ahead.
The Safely Home road safety campaign calendar theme for March and April is personal responsibility. The theme urges all road users to #BeTheChange that they want to see on Western Cape roads.
Wearing a seatbelt is a basic precaution which too many Western Cape residents continue to ignore, with predictable results. The law requires that all vehicle occupants wear an appropriate seat belt. Wearing seat belts reduces the risk of death in motor vehicle crashes by up to 45%. Seat belts prevent 99% of occupants being ejected in a crash. To encourage road users to #BeTheChange, Safely Home has launched an advertising and awareness campaign across various media platforms to encourage road users to act responsibly and to adopt safe behavioural practices. The campaign is also live online on the Safely Home website and on Facebook and Twitter (@WCGovSafelyHome).
Focus on Driver Fatigue Management over the Easter Period
This year, as part of our tactical approach to Easter enforcement, we will be zeroing-in on the public transport industry with special focus on our successful Driver Fatigue Management programme. Our revised Driver Fatigue Management programme was piloted over the past Festive Season on the N1 between Paarl and Beaufort West. This new pilot has brought together the crucial data from our Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement system, in-vehicle technology (dashcams), and our handheld devices. These enforcement tools have now been utilised to track key fatigue indicating data such as departure and arrival locations, driving times of drivers, speed profiling, as well as vehicle tracking.
The collection of this data now allows enforcement officers to, through our Transport Hub, issue fatigue alerts on identified public transport vehicles that have passed through various systems over a short period of time, clocking in speeds that suggest that the drivers may have been driving without taking a break.
When vehicles have been identified, alerts are sent to the handheld devices of officers in the field who are positioned ahead of the vehicle on its route. This allows the officers to intervene and stop the vehicle. Based on the available data of the vehicle and the driver, driver’s will be screened at our major fatigue points for any physical indications as well as blood pressure and glucose tests with the assistance of our integrated partners EMS. Our officers will then force fatigued motorists to rest at these locations before continuing their journey.
We have fine-tuned this pilot project and are now prepared to roll the new system out fully on all major routes across the province that will be experiencing heavy traffic volumes, mainly from public transport vehicles taking travellers to their various holiday destinations.
Even though we experienced high fatalities over the past Easter seasons in our province, we have gathered critical data about the possible causes of these fatal crashes. Driver fatigue, Irresponsible driver behaviour, speeding, drinking and driving (and walking), as well as passengers not wearing seatbelts continue to be the leading contributory factors in road deaths.
We will also link our operations during the Easter weekend to the following focus areas:
- Driver fitness and documentation
- Random Breath Testing (RBT)
- Vehicle fitness
- Driving under the influence
- Passenger overloading
- Commuter safety
Our plans have been precisely formulated to respond to the extraordinary challenges that have become synonymous with the notorious Easter period. This is a holiday period which includes long weekends, school holidays, as well as a host of internationally renowned events that are taking place at this time.
We hope that the current plan will not only address the dangers caused by reckless and irresponsible road use, but also go a long way to ensuring that injury or unnecessary deaths on our roads are avoided.
Law enforcement officers have already begun to intensify pre-Easter operational plans in March
We will continue our valued partnerships over this period with
- Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC),
- Local traffic authorities,
- Neighbouring provinces (Eastern Cape and Northern Cape),
- South African Police Services (SAPS),
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS),
- South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL),
- Disaster Management,
- Forensic Pathology Services (FPS), and
- Fire and Rescue Services.
These partnerships have been key to reducing the carnage on our roads. Working together, we have been able to achieve more notable gains in our fight against road deaths.
Our Provincial Traffic Law enforcement officers will be everywhere this Easter period – where you least expect it - keeping a sharp eye on all activities on our roads.
While our officers are not out to inconvenience anyone, it is, however, clear that where law enforcement officers are present, driver behaviour improves significantly. Increased visibility will form a key part of our approach over this Easter period.
I should like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all of our law enforcement officers who make the necessary sacrifices to keep us all safe on our roads over the Easter period. They are to be commended for their tireless dedication and professionalism in executing their duties. Our enforcement officers have continued to go above and beyond the call of duty, particularly in recent times as they have responded to ongoing protest actions that have brought with them disruptions to service delivery.
I should also like to urge all road users to be our road safety partners, and to take individual responsibility for your own behaviour on the roads in order to make this Easter a safe one.