The Western Cape government is aiming for zero deaths on the province's roads this Easter, and will start setting up roadblocks in the next 48 hours where motorists least expect them.
In 2009, 21 people died on the province's roads over the Easter weekend; in 2010, 28 people; and last year, seven.
Launching the province's Easter Safely Home Road Safety Plan on Monday, transport MEC Robin Carlisle said: “This festive season we have once again been focusing on visibility, enforcement and education on all national and provincial routes in the Western Cape.
“While preventative measures are in place, so are all processes to ensure swift and effective reaction to incidents.”
Community safety MEC Dan Plato and provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa were also at the launch. Plato said the focus of the plan would be on stemming driver fatigue, keeping within speed limits, pedestrian safety on highways and minimising overloading.
“I would like to encourage the public to continue being aware of the dangers of drunken driving,” he said.
Africa warned that drunk drivers would be arrested and kept in jail until Tuesday next week, when courts re-opened.
“We will have alcohol roadblocks throughout the Easter weekend.”
“Over the past weekend, we arrested four drivers between Cape Town and Paarl. One was speeding at 185km/h, another 187km/h, 195km/h and 200km/h. We will not tolerate these speeds.
“From Wednesday morning, we will also arrest pedestrians on freeways. The law is clear - pedestrians are not allowed on the freeways.”
Asked what would happen if a bus or a taxi driver was arrested and the passengers were left stranded, Carlisle said his department would make sure the passengers were transported to the nearest town. He said there was an agreement with the SA National Taxi Council and bus operators to send transport for stranded passengers.
Meanwhile provincial EMS ambulance chief Phumzile Papu said they would supply ambulances and 23-seater buses to accident scenes involving taxis and buses, to help ferry those who were not injured.
“EMS will offer cross-border assistance to neighbouring provinces after crashes. These areas include N7 north of Bitterfontein, N1 towards Three Sisters, R61 towards Aberdeen, N12 north of Uniondale, N2 east of toll gate Nature's Valley and N2 Crags,” Papu said.
Traffic authorities are bracing themselves to deal with increased numbers of drivers on the road.
The City of Cape Town's traffic services started with safety checks at some of the major public transport interchanges.
Merle Lourens, the city's spokeswoman for Traffic Services, said checks would be made across Cape Town every day from 9am to 2pm until Thursday.
Provincial traffic spokesman Jacques Mostert said they would be launching a big operation on the N2, near the airport, on Thursday. Operation Exodus would end on Monday.
“Any vehicles not declared roadworthy will be suspended and prohibited from travelling further. Officers will also ensure that all driver and vehicle documentation is in order.”
JP Smith, the city's mayoral committee member for safety and security, said: “Not only will they ensure that vehicles coming in and out of Cape Town are checked for roadworthiness, but they will also focus on speeding, drinking and driving and using a cellphone while driving - which we consider as serious offences.”
You can report reckless driving, with the vehicle's registration number, to the 24-hour provincial traffic radio control number at 021 812 4581/2. - Cape Argus