Pretoria - Clamping down on unfit drivers would help reduce road deaths in South Africa, says transport minister Dipuo Peters.
She told a summit on aviation medicine training and research in Pretoria on Wednesday: “We believe that some of the people who drive freight and passenger transport on the ground need to be subjected to what the aviation sector is subjected to.
“For us to meet the United Nations standards of a 50 percent reduction in the carnage on our roads by 2020, we need to learn from the aviation sector.
“Those strict rules we need to apply on the road.”
The summit was run by the SA Civil Aviation Authority, the Institute for Aviation Medicine and four institutions of higher education.
“Pilots undergo medical check-ups. We have many people who are driving our buses, trains and freight who are not examined frequently.”
Pilots had to adhere to stringent regulations and they had a responsibility to their passengers.
“As part of our road safety campaign, we are introducing medical checks. It should be a requirement that people who drive public transport, long distances, are fit and proper,” Peters said.
She said the drivers should undergo fitness checks every six months.
To further improve safety on the roads, Peters said drivers should take charge of their passengers' well-being, as the system worked in the aviation sector.
“In aviation, it is the pilot who warns the passengers to buckle up and if there are any signs of danger. We are starting to introduce such a system in trains so that the drivers communicate with commuters,” she said.
“That type of communication is important. It allows the drivers to warn the passengers when they see danger. Aspects of the aviation sector are relevant to safety on the road sector.”
A graduation ceremony was held on Wednesday for 12 doctors who achieved BSc Honours degrees in aerospace medicine from the University of Pretoria.
They were joined by 15 other doctors who received certificates to become designated aviation examiners, in line with international civil aviation requirements.
Peters said in-flight health personnel played a critical role in aviation globally, augmenting the provision of critical services which would not be provided through other modes of transport such as road and sea.
“Air travel is a lifeline for island states and land-locked countries for tapping into the markets of the world. It gives access to essential services like health care in remote areas with non-existent or poor ground transportation,” she said.
“It provides humanitarian assistance during emergencies caused by natural disasters, famine or armed conflict, in a timely and expeditious manner.
“Air travel is also exceptionally reliable. It is as safe, as secure and as environmentally responsible as it has ever been since the early days of powered flight.”