The driver of this minibus taxi was arrested for drunk driving. File photo: Leon Knipe / Infocus

Cape Town - Some long-distance taxi drivers are increasingly worrying traffic officials recording blood-alcohol readings of up to six times over the legal limit.
According to provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa, of the 160 drivers arrested for drunk driving since the start of this month, seven were taxi drivers.

The highest reading was at the weekend in Swellendam where the motorist was six times over the legal limit, with a reading of 1.49/1000ml.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services JP Smith said the number of drunk drivers, particularly taxi drivers, was increasing.

“The figures are much higher than they should be. At times you even find a driver with a Hunters in his hand.”

Smith said they keep encouraging passengers to lodge complaints and “vote with their feet” by not stepping into a vehicle if they suspected that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drinking. Part of the reason people were still driving under the influence, he added, was the lack of consequence.

In the latest crash, three people died and 10 others, including an 11-year-old child, were injured when a taxi and a light motor vehicle collided in Bellville. Congress for Democratic Taxi Association spokesperson Andile Khanyi said it strongly condemned driving under the influence of alcohol.

Cape road death toll at 84

“THE lives that we lose at this time, year on year, remain a painful reminder of horrors experienced on our roads and the work that must still be done to make our roads safer for all who use them,” said Western Cape transport MEC Donald Grant.

This month alone, 84 people have lost their lives on the province’s roads, ranging from drivers, motorcyclists and passengers to pedestrians.

Twenty-four drivers, two motorcyclists, 12 passengers and 46 pedestrians lost their lives during the first 17 days of December. For the same period last year, without giving numbers on bikers, pedestrians and passengers, Grant’s spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said there were 14 road deaths.

Four killed

Four people were killed, including a 10-year-old boy, and nine others injured on Tuesday when four vehicles collided on the N1 highway in the Cape Winelands between Worcester and Rawsonville.

ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said a woman was lying trapped inside a car vehicle, while a man, as well as a boy and girl were found lying outside the same vehicle. He said in the second vehicle a man was found lying motionless and trapped while another man was found lying outside the vehicle.

Six other passengers were found walking around at the scene.

These deaths came a day after three other people were killed in a taxi crash on Robert Sobukwe Drive in Bellville when a taxi driver lost control of his vehicle and collided with a car.

However, Grant said between 1 December 2016 and 31 January 2017, 248 lives were lost on provincial roads.

“While this number showed a decrease in overall fatalities over this period compared to the previous year, the figure remains too high,” Grant said.

He said the consumption of alcohol even in small amounts while driving a vehicle or walking “increases the risk of being involved in a crash”.

“Not only does alcohol impair processes critical to safe road use, such as vision and reaction time, it is also associated with poor judgment and so is often linked to other high-risk road use behaviours such as speeding or not using seat-belts,” he added.

Cape Argus. Cape Times