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No mercy for drunk drivers

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IOL mot pic jan11 Festive Crash 2

INLSA

This is all that was left of an Audi R8 after its driver hit a tree, a a pole and a lamp post during a high-speed chase in Rosebank, Johannesburg on Thursday. Two people were killed in the crash. Picture:Dumisani Dube

Naming and shaming of convicted drunk drivers are to be introduced this year. Having to drive with your headlights on will also be legislated over the next few months.

This commitment was made by Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashref Ismail on Talk Radio 702 following the release of the road death figures on Thursday.

It emerged that more than 1200 road accidents occurred, with the deaths of nearly 1500 people, over the festive season across South Africa.

Transport minister Ben Martins released the preliminary road death toll in Durban on Thursday.

Martins said the crashes occurred because of drunk driving, speeding, dangerous overtaking, failure to use seatbelts and vehicle unroadworthiness.

A pilot project was introduced in the Western Cape in 2012 to name and shame convicted drunk drivers.

Statistics show it is serving as a deterrent.

LeadSA has welcomed the commitment by the RTMC to name and shame convicted drunk drivers and to legislate in the next few months for motorists to drive with their headlights on.

LeadSA activist, Yusuf Abramjee, said there needed to be a multi-faceted approach to road safety.

“Naming and shaming drunk drivers will not be the overall solution - but it will assist in bringing down the high incidence of alcohol use by drivers.

“Driving with your headlines on during the day will increase visibility. Head-on collisions and pedestrian deaths are on the increase and the lights-on campaign will make a difference,” Abramjee said.

Ismail agreed and confirmed that the naming and shaming campaign would be introduced.

“We are talking to the Justice Department to ensure we get accurate details.”

Ismail said making it compulsory for all vehicles to drive with their lights on would be introduced this year, among other measures.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe undertook in July to partner LeadSA in the campaign. However, he failed to deliver.

LeadSA said stricter law enforcement, an effective justice system and a change in behaviour by motorists were all necessary.

Martins said in Durban that “according to the SAPS, it is estimated that about 1465 people lost their lives”.

The deaths occurred from December 1 to January 8.

Forty percent of the crashes involved pedestrians, most of whom were found to be drunk.

Martins called for a ban on alcohol advertising to prevent motorists from driving drunk.

The death toll was lower than that in the 2011 festive season, when it was about 1700.

The RTMC’s acting chief executive, Collins Letsoala, said 60 percent of the road accidents were caused by drunk drivers.

They had cost the economy an estimated R180 billion of the R306 billion a year lost to road deaths.

The Automobile Association of South Africa said that the figures were an indication of the lack of “cohesive” direction from the various government transport organisations.

The AA said while it was devastated by the high number of crashes and fatalities announced, the public was still not getting the full picture of the carnage that occurred month by month.

“The ‘Decade of Action’ was launched in 2011,” said Gary Ronald, the head of public affairs at the AA.

“Since then, no real projects other than enforcement have been implemented.

“Real action to curb the road carnage is impossible when there is no cohesive strategy.”

Despite several strategies from transport bodies, there was still no policy framework in evidence for road safety, Ronald said.

The “Decade of Action for Road Safety” was launched on May 11, 2011.

Governments from around the world took a decision then to increase action to improve road safety to prevent five million road deaths globally by 2020.

“The continuing division between government bodies is clearly doing more harm than good as the number of deaths on our roads has not decreased over the 2012 period,” Ronald said.

The AA would be engaging with the government at a senior level to find a workable solution to stop the carnage on the country’s roads, he added.

“Planning is only as good as its implementation and that we have seen little of.”

Over the festive season, 1 282 586 vehicles were stopped and checked at 226 roadblocks, leading to 3944 people being arrested for a variety of offences.

Letsoala said there would be a renewed focus on corrupt driving schools and officers. - Pretoria News


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