Speech

Western Cape Leads the Way in Road Safety Practices

9 August 2011

Traffic safety management is one of my Department's priorities and we have a focused and committed approach to combatting road fatalities and to curb the road trauma suffered due to the still too many incidents happening daily on our roads.

Over the last few months, this province has had many successes in terms of our efforts to combat road fatalities and trauma on national and provincial roads, and Mr Chairperson, as we are approaching the 2011/2012 festive season, I want to urge you and your team to continue to show your dedication to achieving our objectives.

I am proud of the fact that over the past two months, the Western Cape performed far better than other provinces in terms of showing a month-on-month reduction in the number of road incidents occurring.

The recognition the RTMC gave the province recently for our contribution towards making our roads safer is only due to the diligence displayed by those present here today and the officials who form part of their teams.

At a recent Law Enforcement Technical Committee (LETCOM) meeting, Mr Kenny Africa presented a paper demonstrating the successes achieved by the Western Cape during the previous Easter Weekend. Thirty-eight best practices formed part of this presentation and the RTMC subsequently approved these to be implemented in all provinces.

For example the 24/7 work shift, which was first implemented in the Western Cape, will now be rolled out to all other provinces with the final implementation date of 1 September 2011. The other provinces will now conduct weekend alcohol roadblocks, like we do, and should also establish a web-based name-and-shame campaign for convicted traffic offenders.

We must continue to highlight these best practices and to set certain norms for transport safety and compliance. I therefore urge you to do so and to also pool all efforts for National Transport Month in October and ensure our participation.

We are however still facing many challenges, the biggest of which being the challenge of changing the behaviour of road users. Too many are still showing a complete disregard for the rules of the road on a daily basis. There are many examples.

At one of the nine weighbridge sites, a vehicle was recently found to be 32 tons overloaded. Needless to say, the driver was arrested.

Traffic officers also recently arrested a motorist after he was recorded at a speed in excess of 200 km/h on the N1 between Paarl and Worcester.

Some of the highest speeds recorded recently were that of three motorcyclists travelling at 223 km/h, 213 km/h and at 202 km/h respectively. By the way, they were not in a race against each other.

The motorcycle speedsters were all arrested on the same day.

I can also mention a number of motor vehicles recorded at excessive speeds like 189 km/h, 187 km/h and one motorist driving at 169km/h in a Mercedes Benz from Johannesburg to Cape Town in the Beaufort West area. That driver was arrested on Monday this week.

Minister Carlisle and colleagues, we believe that fixed cameras on our routes need to be supplemented with mobile cameras, operated by officials on the ground where we now revert to physically stopping speed offenders. The benefit of this practice, which was implemented in January this year, is that should a driver be speeding, he or she can also be arrested for being under the influence of alcohol, if that is the case, as the officer can address the issue there and then. In the case of a fixed camera, the perpetrator can obviously get away with a speed fine in the post.

Furthermore, this practice also allows for a more comprehensive vehicle test and search for the transporting of illegal substances. We must give credit to SAPS for their assistance in this resulting in the confiscation of drugs and other illegal substances to the approximate value of R32 million between January and April this year.

Following on our special Safely Home focus on drinking and driving over weekends, as well as efforts during the week, two Shadow Centres are currently operational, one in George and one on Vanguard Drive. I believe that efforts are underway to establish centres in Worcester and Vredenburg as well.

This of course is a collective effort between my Department and the Department of Transport and Public Works.

Let me also say that we will continue to promote the use of the Dräger equipment and I trust that when the Cape High Court ruling regarding the use of the Dräger equipment is known on 7 September this year, it will be in favour of road safety and the further use of the equipment.

I believe that I speak for many here today when I say that I want to see the law changed to one that simply states no drinking and driving. No maximum limits on alcohol consumption, but just plain zero alcohol usage if you are getting behind the wheel.

I want to reiterate my commitment to road safety here today and my support for the efforts of those dedicated to increasing the safety of all road users.

Allow me to once again thank my colleague, Minister Carlisle, for his commitment and for the significant contribution that he and his Department are making towards road safety management in the Western Cape.