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SA's team of road-death busters

2013-09-20 09:05

TOUGH TASK AHEAD: The national transport minister Dipuo Peters has assembled a team to reduce the number of road deaths from 14 000 a year to 7000 by 2020. Image: News24

Chantall Presence

A team of experts has been assembled to help the South African government halve the 14 000 annual road-death toll by 2020, national transport minister Dipuo Peters has announce

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The national transport minister is on a roll. After announcing that the ANC government is forging ahead with amendments to the legal blood alcohol limit earlier in September 2013, minister Dipuo Peters has assembled a team to tackle road deaths and reduce numbers significantly.

The team would be drawn from her department, the SA National Roads Agency, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency and the Road Accident Fund.

ROAD DEATH HOT-SPOTS

Peters said: "The areas of focus will include reviewing existing legislation under the National Road Traffic Act, road structural challenges and educational campaigns to raise awareness about road-safety hazards among drivers, passengers and pedestrians."

The team would be sent to hot spots to identify hazards and interventions to prevent the recurrence of fatal crashes and report monthly to Peters.

Peters said the economy suffered about R306-billion each year because of road deaths: "This cost includes loss of manpower/skills due to fatalities and injuries, emergency medical services, post-crash services such as road repairs and clean-up operations, compensation paid out by our agency the Road Accident Fund, etc."

According to Peters, the RAF paid out R15-billion a year to road crash victims.

Peters also wants to increase the number of traffic cops on the roads - currently at 18 000 against 10-million vehicles on the country's roads.

Several amendments to the National Road Traffic Act were already drawn up or in the process of being developed. "These include amendments... to introduce a two-year probation period for first-time applicants of driver's licences (newly-qualified drivers) and the reduction of a driver's legal blood-alcohol content limit to 0.02%."

Public transport and freight transport drivers would not be allowed any alcohol. The aim was to halve South Africa's annual road death toll - officially 14 000 - by 2020.

'IT'S LIKE GIVING SOMEONE A LOADED GUN'

The private sector, specifically fleet owners, were asked to play its part: "Fleet owners have a responsibility to ensure the roadworthiness of their vehicles before assigning them to drivers. We will hold fleet owners accountable for collisions/crashes caused by unroadworthy vehicles under their fleet."

Peters said in addition to these and other interventions, investigations of corruption at driving testing centres were being scaled up. Several people had already been arrested.

Peters said: "It remains a major area of concern for us because it's at this level that untrained and unqualified drivers are issued with licences and unroadworthy vehicles are certified to be roadworthy. It's like giving someone a loaded gun."

The department was looking at installing cameras at testing centres. Peters would conduct unannounced visits at the centres.
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