Photo: Supplied / City of Cape Town

Cape Town – "Too many road users do not take road safety seriously."

This is the conclusion Mayor Dan Plato and Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith came to after joining traffic officers at a roadblock in Green Point last night to engage motorists about road safety and the dangers of drunk and reckless driving. 

During the roadblock officers recorded 216 offences, which included 22 arrests for driving under the influence. One motorist’s breathalyser reading was 1.04mg/L, which is nearly five times the legal limit.

These statistics represent a fraction of the transgressions that the City’s Traffic Service records on a daily basis.

Below is a snapshot of key offences recorded between October 2018 and March 2019:


OFFENCE

October ’18 – March ‘19

October ’17 – March ‘18

Driving while intoxicated

1 761

1 573

Reckless and negligent driving

442

462

Outstanding warrants executed

97 368

65 723


"The statistics are bittersweet. On the one hand it points to the hard work of our traffic officers to curb the lawlessness on our roads, but on the other hand it also means that too many road users do not take road safety seriously. 

"We have seen some success through various campaigns by the City and from the provincial government, raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, speeding and pedestrian safety. However, it is clear that we need to keep driving the message of responsibility," said Plato.

The City of Cape Town has introduced a number of initiatives and additional resources in the last decade to improve road safety. These include:

– The introduction of the Ghost Squad which meant policing in unmarked, high performance vehicles to address illegal street racing in particular

– Other specialised units to deal with transgressions by the public transport sector

– The launch of the evidentiary breath testing technology to reduce turnaround times in drunk driving cases

– The introduction of Operation Reclaim to track down motorists with outstanding warrants

– The introduction of a 24-hour traffic presence on the roads

In the most recent addition, the City implemented administrative changes to give effect to additional powers to the Law Enforcement Department, which allows them to deal with all traffic-related legislation. 

The change came about after the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services issued the new Peace Officers’ Declaration late last year. 

It is envisaged that all 1 500 officers, which include auxiliary or volunteer law enforcement officers, would have undergone the primary phase of the training by December. 

"What this means is that law enforcement officers will now be able to enforce not just the municipal Traffic By-law, but also the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act," said Smith.

"This will further strengthen our enforcement capabilities, although as the statistics have shown, increased enforcement is not an effective deterrent. 

"The reality is that while we increase the number of drunk driving arrests year after year, we have no idea what happens to these cases once they are handed over to the criminal justice system. 

"However, lengthy delays in court cases are well documented. Until motorists see the consequences of drunk driving through expedited convictions and publication of conviction rates, they will not change their behaviour."