Cape Town - Late in 2016, the Western Cape Government published a Provincial Road Traffic Administration Amendment Bill for public comment.
The Bill proposes amending the Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Administration Act to permit the impounding of vehicles for certain serious road traffic offences, and to encourage road safety through education, promotion and research activities.
We asked readers what they thought of the proposed traffic law via our homepage poll:
33% believe it would improve road safety - 13184 votes
44% believe it's just another opportunity for corruption - 17405 votes
3% said it won't affect them - 1171 votes
20% think the law should be implemented in all provinces - 7899 votes
READ: New traffic law - Readers respond to vehicle impounding
As of 2017, the regulations have yet to be ratified. The Automobile Association shares some insight as to why these regulations haven't been implemented.
The draft regulations, propose these 5 changes to legislation:
1. Drivers to be re-evaluated when renewing a licence
2. No more than five people to be carried in a bakkie load bed
3. Children not to be transported in a bakkie load bed
4. Speed limits to be reduced from 60 to 40km/h in urban areas, from 100 to 80km/h in rural areas and from 120 to 100km/h on freeways running through a residential area;
5. Goods vehicles above 9000kg GVM to be banned from public roads during peak travelling times
READ: Speed limits, heavy truck ban - here’s why there are no new SA road rules yet
More readers respond
Rafick Alie: Yes, please especially the minibus taxis who uses the bicycle lanes in Belhar drive and the emergency lanes on the R300.
Modu Dudhia: It stinks, its like every citizen is a tsotsi! As usual instead of making life easier, it gets more complicated.
Lorita Gouws: Really, who is going to enforce this? The traffic cops that is absent every day peak time when taxi’s do as they like at robots? No matter how dangerous it is for the other vehicles? Or the lorries on the road that comes from an intersection and push in no matter how many cars have to get out of the way. As laws off the road, talking on cell phones, sure this means nothing. The only people that will be penalties as normal will be the normal vehicle drivers.
Charles Norris: This proposal has merit, but I fear it is not altogether practical. More traffic police, and police vehicles fitted with dash cameras, offenders issued with a summons, not a ticket. An alternative would be to take the vehicle off the road for twenty four hours. This would seriously inconvenience the drivers, and hurt the pockets of minibus taxi drivers. Safe storage of vehicles impounded for whatever length of time would be very expensive.
Luka Geertsema: Please, it is a waste of energy and time. It’s like ordering a larger safe to stop money theft but you have no money to put in it!
1. Drastically increase and improve law enforcement and visible policing on all terrains of road safety!
2. Improve the conviction and fine collection systems.
3. Curb bribery and corruption regarding licensing and policing.
Shaheed Ismail: No impounding is not going help with road safety.
Stuart Henderson: I’m not too sure what stuff the WC Provincial Government are taking, but it has to be pretty bad as they are thinking like morons! Impounding a vehicle is going to allow law enforcement to? Ha ha ha! We’ll only see an improvement when we see effective policing and, by the way, NOT the nonsense we saw here in The Western Cape - having roadblocks set up at peak hour is surely far more deleterious to the economy than the outstanding traffic fines that they have not been able to collect!
I, as a motorist, have witnessed - on numerous occasions - rampant flouting of our road laws in plain sight of the traffic authorities, so passing more draconian laws without the co commitment of significantly improved policing is just so much mental stroking!
Throw the money where it belongs:
1. Improved numbers
2. Trained police in all aspects of our road laws – not merely speed camera operators !!
3. Trained police officers who not only know and understand the law but can actually do the job - it fascinates me that the current so called metro police are not even able to do point duty but are perfectly capable of wasting hours sitting behind a speed camera or as I have often – again – observed – standing on the side of the freeway watching the stalled traffic being bullied by shocking taxi behaviour!
4. Visibility at all hours – I work very late and when I leave for home – some mornings at 3am - there isn’t a single traffic police (or for that matter SAPS) car in sight. Makes sense – NOT!
The carnage on our roads is diabolical. Instead of going and reinventing the laws why don’t we study what they did in Europe, Australia the UK and even in some US states. Their annual road death toll has fallen to levels that we see in 1 day – and of interest, many of these nations had death tolls that rivalled ours before they introduced whatever preventative actions they took.
Finally, in SA, we could see rivals ganging up to make hay whilst the sun shines should this act be passed into law. What safeguards are going to be in place to ensure the law is applied equitably?
The Walters: At first appearance it seems like a good idea, however the problems are -
There is greater opportunity for corruption by threatening to impound your vehicle if you do not pay a bribe.
What happens if you contest the offence in court and are found not guilty, you have already had your vehicle impounded.
Monaqita Zama: This procedure will not work as many traffic officers are corrupt and our vehicles may end up in their yards!
Jeremy Thompson: This is a rubbish idea. Cops can start by impounding the non- roadworthy vehicles currently on the road, something they should be doing.
I have witnessed at road blocks how these vehicles go merrily on their way without being pulled off.
The current focus is on drunken driving, but approx. 30% of motor vehicle accidents are caused by drunk drivers, the other 70% generally by idiots, non-roadworthy vehicles, speeding etc.
Please note I do not condone drunk driving but surely the National Road Traffic regulations does not only focus on this life-threatening habit. More regulations is not going to help the road carnage. The cellphone regulation was introduced but to this day every second driver is either talking or messaging. Apparently, no facility is available to store confiscated phones. There are so many other regulations that are broken daily with either the coppers looking the other way or no coppers in the area. I would propose the cops, law enforcement agencies do their work and concentrate on working the areas and purge the city of all serious non roadworthy vehicles. These they may impound and crush. Wanting to impound a perfectly road worthy vehicle is absurd and stupid.
George 'The Dragon' Williams: I fully support the impounding of vehicles but they should concentrate on taxis. I have noticed an increase of taxi drivers come from the Eastern Cape where they drove like lunatics. When the same vehicle has committed 3 offences, impound the vehicle and only allow the legal owner to come pay fines and have the vehicle released. If the vehicle has not been released after 3 months, I would then support a notion to crush that vehicle. This is not just for taxis but any vehicle used on our roads.
Andre Sandiford: Go for it. What a great idea get the dangerous cars, taxi’s and trucks off the road. I knew of quite a few drivers who did not have a car licence they didn’t care. How will you handle the taxi’s who do not have a drivers licence and do not have a proper address to deliver the fines too. Go for it, I’m sure you’ll have rioting and damage to property when this becomes law. We live in a lawless society who feel to make a point just go out and destroy. I wish you all the best and should it come about stick to your word and take them of the road.
Ghalid Erasmus: Who exactly is going to enforce this? The traffic officers do not even understand the simple concept of a coil over suspension system but you want them to make decisions on impounding peoples cars? Also this will make the road users more susceptible to corrupt officials in cohorts with vehicle theft syndicates and will be able to falsely impound vehicles at will... VERY BAD IDEA!
Jason Higgins: I have the unfortunate task of extricating mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters of all ages from the wreckage of there vehicles. The fact that we as a claimed civil society allow this serious transgressions by a small percentage of drivers on our roads act with impunity beggars belief. Our road carnage ( not accidents, stop calling it that ) and deaths per annum proves that. Impounding cars should have started years ago but it's a start. The current way of dealing with transgressions is not working so change it. Any person who feels that the law will infringe on the rights of the guilty let him tell the mother or father that there son or baby or breadwinner have been wiped out by a speeding or reckless driver and will receive a traffic violation fine. Let him look into the eyes of the family as they lay there loved ones to rest. Let him look in the eyes of the family put out in the street because they cannot afford the rent due to the breadwinner being killed on our roads. What and why are we waiting to change the laws. Stop discussing and do it. Enforce it and hold perpetrators to account. Next law to pass, impound vehicles without insurance.
Jerry: I am certain that it will make a difference but its not the solution. Many drivers don't have basic driving skills. Some have lots of cars, if one is impounded, he or she will drive the other car and the problem will persist. Traffic cops should check more on the intersections.
Barry Soulsby: In principle I fully agree with this. What would help to rectify the whole (bad driving) situation, would be extra Traffic Officers on the roads, and also at the correct times. ( it would appear that they all go home at 3.30pm to 4pm.) In the mornings the Traffic Officers break the law themselves, speeding, no indicator usage, ignoring Traffic signals.
Should Traffic Vehicles be impounded as well..? Impound the ones that cause all the problems, the unroadworthy ones, speedsters, defiantly drunk drivers, the ones who ignore the rules of the road.
Doing that will defiantly reduce the traffic flow problems, as very few will be left on the roads.
Frank Dube: This will help a lot , in townships no one cares how they drive it's disaster ( there's lots and lots of unroadworthy vehicle not to mention taxis... Law must apply to all. Viva viva!
Len De Beer: A very positive yes. A sometimes meager fine which doesn't get paid anyway..... well, we all know it gets us nowhere.
Roland Krijgier: I think it is a good idea to have vehicles impounded for serious offenses. South Africa has on average a very high amount of deaths per 100 000 citizens. Belonging to the top 20 countries in the world with most traffic related deaths.
The number of occasions you see people drunk behind the wheel, texting or speeding is incredible. Moreover, I recently learned that you can actually 'negotiate' your fine once you get one. What kind of enforcement is that? So if a driver does actually gets a fine for speeding or another traffic related violation, he/she can get the amount reduced with stupid excuses like 'I've got no job so I have no money' or 'I work in a hospital and was in a rush'. These are actual examples I heard that worked. However, I wonder the next time these people kill somebody when speeding if that excuse is still valid.
Another risk with the room to negotiate fines is the risk of corruption, you give people the power to reduce fines on arbitrary grounds. It's time to step up the game if South Africa really wants safer roads. It's zero tolerance or 'African' roads.