Operation “Zero” Launched Ahead of Busy Easter Period
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Each year, both the Easter and the December Festive Season brings with them high traffic volumes of people travelling in and out of the province to their various destinations.
Increased traffic volumes, in turn, result in the increased risk of collisions and serious injury on our roads. The short Easter period concentrates these high volumes over a period of four days, prompting road traffic management authorities to intensify their efforts over this period to ensure that law and order are maintained, and that unnecessary injury or death on our roads is avoided. As we launch our Operation “ZERO” operational plan today, we are confident that, with the partnerships from our various stakeholders and the help of all road users, we will be able to ensure the safe travel of road users travelling to and from their various destinations.
Our campaign this year, Operation “ZERO” Easter Enforcement Plan, aims to achieve zero fatalities or serious injuries on identified high-risk routes over the upcoming Easter period. The plan is evidence-driven, and has identified high-risk routes that have seen some of the more serious crashes over the Easter period in recent years. Interventions and resources will be directed strategically to these areas to target the errant behaviour that causes fatal crashes, namely excessive alcohol consumption, fatigue, and excessive speeding, which are often both causal and aggravating factors to injury or death. Drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts are also likely to suffer the same fate.
We are grateful to have Municipal Traffic Departments, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the National Traffic Police Unit (RTMC), SANTACO, Municipal police as well as other law enforcement agencies, assisting us, in partnership, during this weekend’s various operations. By working together, we will have a biggest impact on making our roads safer.
We will be conducting various joint operations across the Province targeted at both private and public transport, focussing on issues such as:
- Driver fitness.
- Vehicle fitness.
- Load management.
- Dangerous driver behaviour.
- Pedestrian behaviour.
Traffic Law Enforcement agencies will also have operations aimed at preventing the unlawful transportation of illegal substances, driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and fatigue management. Apart from roadside activities, traffic officials will also promote visible traffic policing and operational readiness, including the further implementation of our successful “sticker project”, targeted specifically at public transport vehicles that will be embarking on long trips across the province, and beyond, transporting thousands of holiday-makers to their various destinations.
Since 2009, we have seen high fatalities over the Easter weekend due to the ever-increasing number of vehicles, bound for various destinations, on our roads during this time. Over the past few Easter weekends, the fatalities have been:
The Easter period has been traditionally characterised by a high proportion of pedestrian and driver/passenger deaths. Last year alone, the fatalities included twelve pedestrians, eight passengers, four motor-cyclists, two drivers, and one cyclist.
Through our Safely Home road safety calendar, we are continuing to drive the message of personal responsibility on the road. We are urging motorists to Be The Change (#BeTheChange) that they want to see on our roads. This important message is being pushed hard on various radio stations (via Goodhope FM, Radio Zibonele and Umhlobo Wenene FM), on Twitter (@WCGovSafelyHome) and via the Freeway Management System’s Variable Message Signs (VMS).
This campaign began in March, where we ran the “Businessman” and “Taxi Driver” radio advertisements. Fresh and new advertisements have been launched ahead of this upcoming Easter Weekend, called “GPS”. These advertisements urge road users not to let reckless driving be the norm on our roads.
Yesterday, I announced the extension of our highly successful Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement network to two sections of the N2. This is the sixth phase expansion of this system that will now cover 28.8 km of the N2, following previous activations along the R61, the R27, and most of the N1. We hope that this further extension of the system will result in a continued decrease in both road fatalities, as well as speed violations on the province’s most dangerous roads.
This sixth phase of the ASOD system now covers an additional 28.8 km in two sections of the N2, bringing the coverage by the system to 452 km. As part of Operation “ZERO”, we will also have traffic officers deployed around the clock at some of our ASOD stretches to nab reckless speedsters on the spot and issue them with the appropriate fine or arrest them if they are found to have been speeding excessively.
Our successful Fatigue Management campaign (which has seen a marked drop in the number of fatal public transport crashes) will continue on all of our major routes to combat the serious threats to safety posed by fatigued drivers. This campaign is mostly targeted at public transport vehicles but has been extended to private vehicles where fatigued drivers are stopped and made to rest. We will also be using our ASOD system, as part of the fatigue management campaign, to alert traffic officers of public transport vehicles returning from the Eastern Cape too soon after having made the initial trip out of the province. These drivers will also be pulled over and made to rest.
Restraints enforcement, particularly back seat passenger restraints, will also be a focus over this Easter Weekend, and we call on both passengers and drivers to ensure that they are buckled-up before any journey, and also to be vocal in reporting reckless and irresponsible driving to the authorities on 021 812 4581/2, the number for our Provincial Traffic Radio Control Centre, as well as on the Safely Home Reporter.
As with any time of the year, responsible road use and behaviour saves lives. We continue to urge all road users to be mindful of the rules of the road at all times, and motorists, particularly during this Easter Weekend:
- Not to speed.
- Not to drink and drive.
- To be extra mindful of pedestrians (who make up half of all the fatalities in the province).
- Not to use cellphones while driving.
- To ensure that they buckle up, and most importantly that children in the vehicle are buckled up.
Motorists are also urged to be extra vigilant from 18:00 in the evening when most crashes are recorded on our roads. In doing so, we can ensure that after our various travels, we all get Safely Home.