Traffic Officer Graduation Ceremony
Speech by Jacqui Gooch, Head of Department: Transport and Public Works
We would not be at this auspicious occasion if it had not been for the hard work of 50 students who have successfully completed the 12-month Further Education and Training Certificate: Road Traffic Law Enforcement. This qualifies them to become traffic officers and to act in that capacity to make our roads safer.
Because the Western Cape Government takes the safety of its people very seriously, a transversal “safer roads” project has been put in place as part of Provincial Strategic Goal 3: “increase wellness and safety, and tackle social ills”.
Our traffic officers play a vital role in enforcing the law, but law enforcement on its own cannot make our roads safe. Road safety is critically dependent on the residents of the Western Cape and all its visitors accepting responsibility for their actions on the roads, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or motorists. This includes buckling up front and back, adhering to the speed limit, not driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and not driving distracted by cell phones and other electronic devices.
Allow me to elaborate on some of the road safety initiatives that my department has already implemented in conjunction with other agencies, as well as our plans for the future.
As part of South Africa’s obligations to the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, and in terms of the National Road Safety Strategy, one of our core objectives is to reduce road fatalities by 50%. Research proves that drinking and driving, pedestrians, travelling over the speed limit and distracted driving are leading contributors to the high rate of road fatalities and injuries. Pedestrians alone account for 43% of all Western Cape road traffic fatalities.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, if current trends continue,road trauma will be the fifth largest cause of unnatural deaths by 2030.
Our Average Speed Over Distance equipment on major routes and hand-held devices that enable traffic officers to get real-time information about motor vehicles are helping to promote intelligent law enforcement all over the Western Cape. These initiatives have already helped to reduce fatalities on almost all of our major routes by significantly altering driver actions, attitudes and behaviour.
I would like to thank all the staff in my department who have spent countless hours with the National Prosecuting Authority and other role players to ensure that all the legal requirements are met to reintroduce evidentiary breath alcohol testing (EBAT) equipment at our SHADOW (Safely Home Anti-drink Driving Operational War Room) Centre in Athlone. This will enable the swift processing and prosecution of people driving under the influence of alcohol.
Once today’s events have been concluded, most of these new officers will be deployed at our 13 Provincial Traffic Centres across the Western Cape. Their daily deployment will be aligned with the Provincial Rolling Enforcement Plan to reduce road crashes, fatalities and serious injuries by creating a heightened awareness of road traffic safety through:
- Inculcating good road user behaviour and encouraging voluntary compliance with the law,
- Improving the detection and likelihood of successful prosecution of road traffic offences,
- Reducing offending rates against all key safety indices,
- Reducing opportunities for criminal activities on our roads, and
- Contributing to the harmonisation and coordination of law enforcement and anti-crime operations to improve safety for everyone.
In closing, to the young men and women on parade: I would like to compliment you on your achievements. I wish to acknowledge the sacrifices that you and your loved ones had to make during your training. The head of Gene Louw Traffic College told me that the students from Overstrand Municipality travelled every day from Hermanus to receive training.
I trust that you will always reflect on what you have learned and what you have sacrificed to get to this point in your career. I appeal to all graduates here today not to become complacent. There is much more learn in the real world of traffic law enforcement. Do what needs to be done to keep yourself safe in the course of your duties.
In closing, remember that you are now part of a profession that expects its members to show the highest levels of integrity and honesty, and the highest levels of care and respect for the people you serve.
I thank you.