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Big brother for Cape roads


traffic centre_nov 30

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Officers monitor traffic from the Traffic Management Centre in Goodwood. New cameras will be able to read number plates and alert police to a range of road crimes. Photo: Murray Williams

Three state-of-the art, hi-tech systems are being planned to monitor traffic and to try to reduce road deaths on Western Cape roads.

The provincial transport ministry has revealed plans to introduce the latest camera and tracking technology to keep a closer eye on motorists.

The plans include:

* Satellite trackers in all public transport vehicles, including buses and minibus taxis.

* Automatic number plate recognition detectors built into freeway cameras.

* Cameras at level crossings.

Some of the plans have been worked on for months, while others emerged from the province’s Behavioural Economics Workshop, held with the Ideas42 group of Ivy League professors from the US, in Cape Town last week.

Transport MEC Robin Carlisle’s office said on Wednesday: “Minister Carlisle said at the beginning of his term he would use any legal means to reduce the carnage on the roads. So we are looking at any initiative that has road safety value. The range of available closed-circuit television cameras and satellite tracking systems has matured significantly, so we need to harness these to the benefit of all South Africans.”

The aim is to place tracking devices in all public transport vehicles by the beginning of 2013.

“The new MyCiTi buses all have tracking devices and, so far, the Provincial Transport Department has placed 500 trackers in Golden Arrow Bus Service buses. The full fleet of 1 300 buses will be tracked by the end of this financial year (2012).

“These would be mandatory conditions on public transport operating licences...

“The primary aim is to increase road safety through enhanced monitoring of driver behaviour and traffic law enforcement. Operators are also able to monitor what their employees are doing and how they are driving.

“While speeding and other reckless behaviour will be greatly curtailed by the devices, it is also expected that dispute resolution over route invasions and other behaviour which disrupts the taxi industry will be greatly improved,” Carlisle’s office said.

Post-crash analysis would also be improved, and it was also intended to bring the insurance industry on board. The department planned to meet insurance representatives in the new year.

Carlise’s office said it did not want small businesses, such as taxi owners, to incur unnecessary costs, but stressed that they would also benefit from better driving by their drivers.

The SA National Roads Agency (Sanral), the province and the City of Cape Town planned to enter into a joint contract with a consortium to operate and maintain an enhanced Freeway Management System (FMS).

The current system operated out of the state-of-the-art Traffic Management Centre in Goodwood.

“The system monitors the entire N1, N2, R300 network and part of the N7. Improvements will see public information greatly enhanced, including access to live feeds from the system via the web.

“Integrating a rejuvenated N2 BMT (Bus and Minibus Taxi) system into the FMS is coming in May 2013, while talks are ongoing regarding roll-out of automatic number plate recognition on the network.”

This would allow speed-over-distance enforcement on a large scale, and automatically detect unroadworthy, unregistered and stolen vehicles, as well as help law enforcement in a variety of other ways.

“All these elements, from smoother flowing traffic to improved driver behaviour, are expected to have significant impacts on road deaths on the road network, which will also be expanded to integrate feeder routes,” Carlisle’s office said.

“In the meantime, the current pilot at Beaufort West continues, and plans are afoot for similar networks on a number of other roads, including the N1 ‘Kanniedood’ stretch, and the R27.”

A camera system had already been installed at the White Road level crossing camera near Steenberg.

Carlisle’s office said the city’s Traffic Services, together with Metrorail, would be prosecuting offenders who failed to stop at the crossing. The camera footage would be used as evidence.

The National Prosecuting Authority had approved this measure last week.

The department planned to install camera systems at all level crossings, as well as proper traffic lights, to leave drivers in no doubt as to when they had to stop for trains. These would replace the current system of flashing red lights. - Cape Argus


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