Responsible road use is a non-negotiable this Festive Season
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
I should like to begin by extending a sincere word of thanks to all of you for being here today. Your continued partnership and support of our road safety activities and initiatives remains crucial to our success. As we enter the notorious festive season period, our ability to work together, with our shared vision and commitment, will undoubtedly go a long way to improving safety on our roads during this special time of the year for many of our citizens.
In the future, we aim to see a drastic reduction in the number of people either injured or killed on our roads. In order to achieve this, we will be conducting integrated traffic and road safety initiatives that respond directly to the dire situation we so often find on our roads. Our most urgent task is to do all we can to lessen the carnage that is caused each year by reckless and irresponsible behaviour on our roads.
We must continue to encourage and promote safe and responsible road use as an imperative, and create a citizenry of law-abiders who exercise caution and care when taking to the roads - citizens who know that their conduct has a direct impact on the lives of others, and that their positive and safe actions keep others alive.
The lives that we lose at this time, year-on-year, remain a painful reminder of horrors experienced on our roads, and the work that must still be done to make our roads safer for all who use them. Just last year alone, over the past festive season (1 December 2016 till 31 January 2017), a total of 248 lives were lost on our roads. While this number showed a decrease in overall fatalities over this period compared to the previous year, the figure remains too high.
So far this year (from January 2017 till November 2017), an overall total of 1230 lives have already been lost on Western Cape roads.
Since we launched our Safely Home initiative back in 2009, tremendous progress has been made not only to make our roads safer, but also to save more lives. Although the number of deaths over the holiday season remains far too high, we continue to see progress through our various initiatives, indicating a movement in the right direction in our fight against road carnage and in making our roads safer for all who use them.
#BoozeFreeRoads Alcohol and Roads Don’t Mix
At the centre of any road safety initiative remains a strong focus on drinking and driving/walking and its many dangers. Alcohol and road use simply don’t mix, which is a truth known to us all, and demonstrated 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, and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle or walking, 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.
Our roads safety initiative, Safely Home, will be running festive-season long awareness campaign under the theme “Alcohol and Roads Don’t Mix”, with the hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads. The campaign will specifically target adults who are the ones most likely to drink and drive, or drink and walk.
We know that over 40% of drivers killed on Western Cape roads, who were tested for alcohol, were blood alcohol content (BAC) positive. We also know that approximately 372 pedestrians were killed while under the influence of alcohol on Western Cape roads last year. The problem of alcohol consumption and road use is one that demands our urgent attention.
The campaign is currently 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.
Festive Season Enforcement
The Western Cape Government has made every effort to ensure safe roads over the festive season. Despite resource constraints, our Provincial traffic officers remain the only traffic service to operate a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year traffic enforcement operation. This will be intensified over the upcoming festive season. There will, once again, be more round-the-clock enforcement operations over this festive season focussed on:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Random Breath Testing (RBT)
- Excessive speed
- Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD)
- Driver Fatigue management, carried out later in the night when most fatigue-related crashes occur.
- Driver/vehicle fitness
- Distracted driving
- Public transport
- Pedestrian safety
- Seatbelt compliance
- Inter provincial operations
- Licencing plates
- Safe following distances
- Transportation of illegal substances/elicit cigarettes
Motorists must also exercise extreme caution when travelling on the roads this festive season, particularly at previously identified hotspots for incidents and crashes, namely; the R27 West Coast; the N1, N2, N7; R60; R62; R43/R45; N12; as well as the R300. Enforcement activities will also be focussed on these locations.
Random Breath Testing (#RBT)
On 1 July this year, we launched our pilot Random Breath Testing (RBT) project, which was a joint project of the national, provincial, and local governments; and is in partnership with the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Provincial Traffic Services, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), Safely Home, the City of Cape Town, and the Traffic services of the Cape Agulhas, Overstrand, and Theewaterskloof municipalities.
The RBT model is based on those used successfully around the world, in countries like Australia. Lessons for devising the RBT operational model were drawn from Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria, where a 20% reduction in alcohol related traffic injuries was achieved within two years of implementing RBT operations.
Since its implementation over 5 months ago, over 20 000 motorists have been stopped and screened for alcohol (largely in the City of Cape Town) at various operations across the province. Hundreds of arrests have been made for motorists found to be over the limit.
One of the biggest benefits of RBT has undoubtedly been the increased awareness that has come from the increased visibility of our traffic officers at various locations, conducting operations. We are pleased at the overall positive feedback that we have received since launching this initiative. We will continue with RBT, which now forms a crucial part of our enforcement activities and interventions.
Our Provincial Traffic Services will work closely with our road safety partners and road users across the province. We hope that our collective efforts will yield a safer festive season for all road users travelling to and from their various destinations.
We are very serious about adopting a no nonsense approach over this upcoming festive season. Drivers must be warned that their errant and life-threatening behaviour on our roads will land them in jail. We cannot continue to see lives lost so senselessly on our roads as a result of dangerous driver behaviour and general lawlessness. We are grateful for our partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), who are as committed as we are to helping us prosecute those that continue to threaten the safety of others on our roads.
I should like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere 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 of saving lives and tackling lawlessness on our roads. I look forward to us continuing to work together with the citizens of the Western Cape, and seeing less lives lost senselessly on our roads.