Cape Town - 120601 - A roadblock was held by Provincial and City Traffic Officials on Modderdam road Southbound near the N2 (Bonteheuwel) on Friday night. In the first hour of the road block being set up 8 people were arrested for drunk driving (the lowest alcohol reading on the Drager was 0.38 almost twice the legal limit) The first people to be arrested was an off-duty police officer. The suspects were taken to the Bishop Lavis Police Station for processing. Also nabbed was a 17 year old taxi driver driving an unroadworthy taxi. The normal driver was too drunk to drive so they sent the 17 year old to drive the taxi. The taxi was impounded and the youth was taken to Bishop Lavis police station to wait for his parents before being charged. His parents were also allegedly too drunk to come to the scene. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

In a clampdown on speedsters, Capetonians will soon be able to arrest errant drivers in their own communities, as the city prepares to train traffic reservist wardens.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the wardens would boost the city's traffic services team. They would focus on manual speed enforcement.

There is a proposal to lower the speed limit from 120km/h to 110km/h on Western Cape roads.

Smith said the training programme was originally 18 months long. However, few residents would be available for such a long period.

Now with the reduced training phase of three months, Smith said the reservists would still receive the basic training. They will be able to issue tickets and pull over speeding motorists.

And this will even extend to when they are off duty.

“There are people who have had enough of speeding in their communities. My goal is train them and eventually have one reservist in each area. They can then group at problem spots in their communities and will be able to ticket people for speeding and offences such as illegal parking.”

He said the city would be meeting the provincial department of transport and public works on the issue this week. The first training session would start in January.

Over the next few months, 10 extra officers would also join the speed enforcement team.

The city has moved its focus away from automatic enforcement for speed offences. Instead, there is now a strong focus on manual enforcement, which is when officers pull motorists off the road. It's in line with traffic services' move towards increased visible enforcement.

Traffic fines earned the city more than R6 million in July.

While the city ramps up its fight against speeding drivers, Smith said officers were getting a grip on another major road offence. With heavy penalties and city-wide roadblocks, officers had noted a decrease in drunken driving.

More than 200 motorists were arrested on this charge in July. Smith said even this figure was higher than usual, a spike he said normally happened over holiday periods. Many of the offences took place over the mid-year school holidays.

“The punishment is so severe. And the campaign had reached a point where almost everybody knew somebody who had been caught.”

The city had noted more use of metered taxis and “buddy systems”, especially over the weekends.

Officers had also monitored drink-driving arrests on a Fish Hoek road over the past year.

When roadblocks first started there, an average of 70 motorists were arrested each night. Smith said the current average on that stretch was 15. - Cape Argus