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Taxi/bus drivers: Get the gloves off

2014-04-07 14:42

SA’S UNTOUCHABLES: A taxi driver’s stupidity led to 14 people, including eight children, being killed in this crash. An MEC urges drivers to be patient on the roads. Image: SAPA

LES STEPHENSON

Despite all the posturing by "road safety" groups FIFTY-TWO people, 32 of them CHILDREN, were injured in only TWO crashes in South Africa early today (April 7 2014).

And that's only the two incidents Wheels24 spotted on the South African (Sapa) news wires.

This, Wheels24 says, is an appalling indictment of national and provincial governments' continuing failure to manage and monitor public service vehicles' (read buses and taxis)- maintenance and the behaviour of their drivers.

STATE PLATITUDES

Whether through political interference or official paid protection of public transport owners or simply official laziness or disinterest we could argue all day. Fact is, there is no such thing as a road 'accident'. In every crash, from a traffic-jam nudge to a bus going over a cliff, somebody screwed up.

Too often with buses and taxis the excuse is "the brakes failed", "a tyre blew", "mechanical failure" instead of the true causes: "the brakes were never serviced', "the tyres were bought second-hand from a roadside vendor", "maintenance costs money but drivers are cheap and passengers are free".

The government will score brownie points by paying for the funerals and an ANC official will recite platitudes and the slaughter will go on.

BASIC KNOWLEDGE

Any person with even a basic knowledge about things on wheels can take a drive any weekday and within a hour can spot a dozen or more public passenger vehicles with potentially fatal defects: bald tyres, listing suspension, smoking exhaust, smashed lights, overloaded.

Do it again after dark and count the dead head and tail lights and broken indictators, the speeding, the ignoring of stop signs and red lights.

And, among all that, count the number of also appalling traffic transgressions from overtaking on white lines and blind rises, through driving down the emergency lane to simply selfishly blocking traffic.

After what is it - 30 years? - of piratical and abusive driving, lethal road habits, a fatal (to others!) belief in invincibility and thousands of deaths and injuries all caused by frequently gun-toting drivers it's time for the state to step in with well-paid and honest cops in unmarked cars - and courts with clout.

Pull the death traps off the road and crush them; those who cause death by driving should face a minimum 10 years' jail and all public transport vehicles should carry insurance for their passengers.

Finally, the law should punish the vehicle/business owners harshly, as well as their drivers. Making money at the risk of death and injury should no longer be tolerated in South Africa.

The crashes that prompted this editorial:

Thirty-two school children were injured when two buses and a car collided on the R102 near Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal early on April 7. None of the children were seriously hurt. The cause off the crash: "Not known."

More than 20 people were injured when THREE taxis collided in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, early on Monday morning. Metro police said one of the injured was a driver but all were taken to hospital. - Editor

Is Stephenson being too harsh - or too lenient? Do you have suggestions on how to cut the death and destruction involving public service carriers in South Africa? Tell us in the Readers' Comments section below or email us and get published.
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Read more on:    injury  |  death  |  hospital  |  blood  |  south africa

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