Kwanele Butana and Barbara Maregele
THE National Prosecuting Authority wants harsher punishments, including suspending licences, for drivers who exceed the speed limit by 30km/h in urban areas and 40km/h elsewhere.
Traffic regulations issued in terms of the National Road Traffic Act, implemented in November, no longer give speeding drivers the option of paying a fine, and they have instead been arrested on the spot.
The provincial transport department said it was meant to strengthen the prosecution of speedsters, and there had been a number of arrests.
Western Cape NPA director Rodney de Kock earlier this year submitted a memorandum to prosecutors suggesting they argue in court that the licences of first-time offenders be suspended for a maximum of six months while second-time offenders could have this extended to five years.
“(Licences of) motorists with more than a third offence could be suspended for 10 years,” De Kock told the media.
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said speeding was among the top causes of accidents and deaths in the city.
“We have been pushing for this for a long time. Research has shown that even small reductions in speed limits reduce accidents,” he said.
Yasir Ahmed, chief director for transport regulation at the provincial transport and public works department, said the initiative supported the department’s Safely Home programme’s goal of making provincial roads safer and halving road deaths by 2014.
He said the department’s officials worked closely with the NPA to ensure a common understanding of road traffic and transportation legislation.
“The department has assisted the NPA in the past by providing officials to help prosecutors in presenting evidence in aggravation before sentencing. A recent example of this co-operation was the Jacob Humphreys case, where the department’s Safely Home programme manager’s presentation of such evidence in aggravation contributed towards the upholding of Mr Humphreys’s verdict and a suitably harsh sentence,” he said.
All roads would be monitored, from municipal streets to national routes where speedsters exceed the 120km/h limits, and traffic enforcement authorities had been alerted to the provisions of the new regulations, which would be enforced in a “uniform manner”.
Ahmed said the Western Cape road death toll had dropped by close to 30 percent since 2009 and seemed set to reach a 50 percent reduction by the end of 2014.
The department and the ministry receive hundreds of applications annually from individuals who have lost their jobs or livelihoods as a result of their licences being suspended or withdrawn by the courts after they were found guilty of drunk driving or reckless and negligent driving.