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'Super licence' reader feedback

2006-06-26 16:51

John Oxley

Robbie Crouch, writing from the Free State, suggests that not only should there be more policing, but there should be "ENOUGH properly TRAINED staff to do the job!"

He also says that instead of concentrating efforts on trapping motorists on highways, there is room to INCREASE some speed limits.

"Some highways' speeds could actually be increased to 160Km/h or more," he said.

"I recall recently reading of a state in the US that did this and halved the accidents caused by drowsiness on one long desert stretch! As you say speed alone does not kill... "

He agreed that those holding illegal licences should have their vehicles confiscated.

"This should be a given... It would stop this practice within weeks..."

And he had this to say about driving tests:

"Also make the fees affordable... currently how does an out of work person train and get a licence?

"Also the cost of renewing one's license is totally out of proportion to the actual work involved as well as the cost of the new card."

And his final say, on the suggestion that businesses should get involved in driver training, was a simple incentive: "Make this tax deductible!"

Insurance incentives

Corne Botes, from Cape Town, had this to say:

"I have done two Audi high performance driving courses and received a certificate for each.

"I have been told that presenting these certificates to my insurance broker would result in a reduction of my monthly insurance premium.

"Although this has not happened yet, I believe that this might be a solution.

"Insurance on these 'supercars' is already high, but drivers can be encouraged to do these type of courses and the motivation would be lower premiums.

"Believe me - these courses open your eyes to a whole lot of stuff. And it's great fun.

"Just a second comment - always remember that anybody in a Fiat Uno can be just as deadly (or dead) as someone in a faster (and more powerful) car!"

Soliciting bribes

James Scott, of Johannesburg, had other - and a lot more serious - comments to make.

"I have noticed lately that speed trapping is almost non existent around Joburg, apart from fixed cameras in certain places," he said.

"Metro cops are out in full force on Sundays on the N1, N3 and M1 as that is the only day that traffic is not congested. During the week it is impossible to speed anymore, so that may be a reason.

"Personally I believe that the 'lazing in the shade manning a speed camera' is not the ultimate job for metro cops like it was in the past, as you are away from the action.

"What do I mean by that?

The Metro cops are all hanging around on major intersections, and busy roads like Grayston drive, William Nicol, and Katherine Street, pulling cars over for various things, and then soliciting a bribe.

"I have been pulled over twice, once accused of talking on the cell phone, when I wasn't, I argued this but was told that I could argue in court, and then was asked for money to buy a coke (R100) and was let off.

"Another time I was pulled off on William Nicol for driving with two wheels on the dirt after a slip road fed me onto Nicol Drive.

"I explained that a taxi had just blocked the lane and prevented me merging, but that was not good enough. I didn?t have my driver's licence on me so was told that it's a R500 fine, and then asked for a gift to avoid the fine.

"My conclusion is trapping is on the decline and metro cops are looking for places to pull people off to get bribes as sitting on the side of the road the whole day doesn't 'pay'."

Great ideas

Ron McGregor, from Cape Town, is angry. But he has some great ideas.

He says: "Excellent article.

"As I contemplate three speeding fines due end June, I am angered, because in none of these cases was I travelling at unsafe speeds.

"In fact I was travelling at around the same speed as those around me, which, I suggest, is always the safest speed at which to travel.

"It isn't speed that kills, it's speed differentials that kill.

"If one vehicle is travelling at 60 km/h while all around are doing 120, that's a recipe for disaster.

"Likewise, if a vehicle doing a perfectly legal 60 bangs into a traffic jam where all the others are stationary, then the panel beaters will have a field day, along with the doctors.

"So I would like to see three things happening.

"Firstly, I believe that traffic authorities, both provincial and municipal, should be required to justify their decisions as to what speed limits to apply on certain roads.

"When a dual lane highway has a speed limit of 80 km/h, we ought to be able to challenge the appropriateness of the limit in court.

"Secondly, I believe that it is fundamentally wrong for the proceeds of traffic fines to go directly to the local authority.

"This system simply gives the authority a vested interest in aiming for as many prosecutions as possible.

"Traffic fines should go to a central fund, which would then be divvied up between all local authorities who have brought their accident rate down.

"Those who have failed to do so will get nothing.

"This will incentivise the authorities to take steps to curb accidents so they can share in the rewards.

"Which leads directly to ...

"Thirdly, as you so rightly say, traffic authorities should be clamping down on reckless or incompetent driving (which includes excessive speed or slowness), as well as unroadworthy vehicles.

"Which means that you should send a copy of your article to every council in the republic.

"However, I doubt that they would listen. This is a democracy, where common sense will forever be ignored in favour of popular politics."

Toll plaza nightmare

Kevin Patmore has this to say:

"I was in the Limpopo province over the long weekend. We left on the Thursday and returned on the Sunday.

"I am afraid to say that the motorists using this road have absolutely no common sense and are totally out of control.

"I was towing a caravan, travelling at 110km/h most of the way. I was overtaken on the yellow line (I was driving in the slow lane) by motorists traveling at goodness knows what speed.

"The queues at the tolls were mostly four to five km long. The new way to beat the queue is to use the emergency lane (two accidents in emergency lane).

"I tried blocking the emergency lane only to be foiled by people driving past in the long grass. I decided that this was not the right way.

Surely with the long queue for a start the authorities should either open the tollgates (which we know they won't do) or add a few more lanes to the tollgates.

"Count of traffic officers on this road was zero.

"They would have made a fortune if they stood within a km of each toll and fined drivers using the emergency lanes."

Parents to blame?

And from Mark Brown in Johannesburg:

"Whilst I agree that whilst a 'super license' is a No No, I think that individuals who purchase a high performance vehicle should take it upon themselves to do an advanced driving course.

"This would teach people how to handle the performance of the vehicle that they are driving.

"Let's be honest - how many parents out there buy their 18 year olds a high performance vehicle for one of two reasons, firstly because it is the vehicle that the 18 year old wants (so they can show off) and secondly so that they (the parent) can brag about what vehicle they have purchased for their 18 year old.

"Quite often this leads to injury or fatality.

"The other problem is that too many people will go out and buy something like an AMG, M3 etc. because they can afford it and it's a status symbol.

"Again let's be honest, how many of these high end luxury cars are seen driving down the fast lane of the freeway at 80 km/h?

"Invariably this leads to somebody else getting pissed off (as there is no reason for this person to dawdle down the fast lane) who then in their upset state do something to cause an accident.

"My belief is that the speed you are able to drive is relative to what you believe is too fast for you to be able to drive, in other words if you believe that you can not handle a vehicle at 100 km/h you WILL NOT be able to drive at this speed.

"However high speed should only be used if and when the opportunity arises and if you know you can handle the vehicle you are driving."

Holistic approach

George Theron, of Sandton, agrees that there's too much focus on speeding by the traffic authorities.

"I appreciate your candid and objective article regarding the public and authorities? focus in regards to the perceived cause of accidents in South Africa i.e. SPEED," he says.

"A holistic approach is required to stem the accident rate and death toll on our roads.

"Additional factors such as driver fatigue, blatant disregard for traffic rules such as solid white lines preventing overtaking, driving in the yellow lane, ignoring traffic lights and Stop signs, exceeding the speed capability of your vehicle in poor traffic, road or weather conditions are ignored and forgotten by the public or authorities.

"In addition the public and authorities seem to forget that 50% of the deaths on our roads are pedestrians.

"Jay-walking should be addressed by authorities, especially on freeways and national roads where it should not be tolerated at all.

"Authorities seem to focus only on speeding fines as it the easiest and most lucrative to police and enforce.

"I find it sad that unless a holistic approach is undertaken that the accident rate and death tolls on our roads will only continue to rise."

More training

Andrew Niven, of Johannesburg, makes a call for more advanced driver training.

"Interesting article and points made," he says, "only one problem, no matter how big the horsepower and no matter how many safety features, ESD, EBD, traction control etc, if you have an idiot behind the wheel nothing will make it safe and hence accidents will occur!

"Drivers of vehicle with serious power should undergo advanced driver training and this should be part of the deal when purchasing such a vehicle.

"But then again the average Joe driver should also attend such training to be more aware as a driver and to know how to handle emergency situations."

Mantra of the day

Alan Snelling is totally in agreement with the columnist.

"Your closing statements are brilliant," he says.

"They should be published in every newspaper and read out in Parliament at every sitting, and if our traffic cops could read they should be made to learn it off by heart to try and understand the concept of pro-active traffic control.

"Each and every day the deterioration of driving abilities, road rage and the blatant disregard for traffic regulations increases - not only taxi drivers who do not believe the law applies to them, but all road users - ' if the taxi drivers can do so can I' is the mantra of the day.

"Keep up the good work."

Scary thoughts

And finally, a very succinct summary from Advocate Johan Jonck, developer of the road safety website www.arrivealive.co.za - a website developed as a private initiative to compliment the efforts by the Department of Transport in enhancing awareness of road safety.

"In the first comprehensive statistical analysis of road traffic management incidents, published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in 2005 it is stated that 90% of crashes in South Africa are the result of lawlessness.

"In South Africa a blatant disregard for the law has resulted in an increasing number of serious accidents.

Where accidents are however described as 'sudden unforeseen events' these crashes are in many instances foreseeable and indeed preventable.

"Data collected from accident reports in 2004 indicates that most accidents can be attributed to two or more simultaneous offences.

"Human factors such as non-adherence to traffic rules and aggressive, reckless, negligent and inconsiderate driver behavior are the major contributory factors - contributing 70-80% of all accidents.

"This includes driving too fast for the circumstances and driving under the influence.

"Vehicle factors such as poor lights, smooth or damaged tyres and poor brakes contribute a further 10-15%.

"Poor road conditions have in recent times also been exposed in the media - but in 2004 only contributed 5-10% of accidents.

"From these statistics it becomes evident that the answers to most road safety questions will depend not only on international funding, effective road safety strategies and visible campaigns - but it will have to include an attitude change from those who travel and walk along these roads - as well as respect for the value of human life!

"Not only will effective enforcement have to remove the transgressors from the road, but ordinary citizens will have to take responsibility for their actions.

"Commuters have recently been empowered to report dangerous conditions and driver behavior to the National Commuter Hotline and it is envisaged that this will enable transport authorities to address these complaints with those subsidised companies neglecting the safety of commuters.

"Is it possible to change attitudes towards road safety? The alternative is too scary to consider..."


Why can't cars be cheap?

2006-08-16 07:24

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