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Road toll: A reader suggests...

2013-04-12 08:10

BUSIER AND BUSIER... As SA's roads become ever more crowded more people are dying on them - is the government listening to the people about what to do? Stock image

Fiona Seedat

This time it is Gary Ronald of the AA stating “little has been done to reduce the number of road deaths”. I would like to ask Gary what exactly is supposed to be done to decrease the 60% pedestrian deaths? Should we have officials standing at identified hazardous spots to drop-tackle jaywalkers to stop them crossing busy highways and roads, often while inebriated or plain old drunk?

How soon before there are screams of outrage from the public about traffic official brutality? The problem is complex; it is linked to laws governing the sales of alcohol, a legal system that does not really cater for crimes such as jaywalking. Let's face it, drunks are arrested and sleep off the effects of the booze in a jail cell and are then sent home the next day. I am sure it's too much effort to write up the charges and go through the court process.


Perhaps our justice ministry should consider dedicated traffic courts to deal with all traffic and road-related crimes. This worked during the World Cup in 2010 and settlement of cases was a lot more speedy and efficient.

In the space of almost three years there have been three changes to the minister of transport. Each time a new person steps in there is an adjustment period to familiarise the new person with the post and I think there is a shuffle in the lower ranks of deputies and directors-generals etc. to accommodate the new minister. So when exactly is the new strategy supposed to be formulated and implemented?

The former person may have approved something but the new person wants to make an impression and requests changes and by the time these are ready for review then WHOOPS,  a new minister is appointed.

We will see a decrease in road deaths when the law and the justice system enforce harsher sentences for road offenders, drivers and pedestrians. The numbers will drop when people are fined a hefty sum for all occupants not using seat belts. The impact will be swift when vehicle owners (taxis and trucks) are tried along with the guilty drivers for murder or culpable homicide when there are fatalities.


There will be a change when companies whose unroadworthy vehicles are involved in collisions or unqualified drivers are penalised with severe fines. When buses, taxis and other wrecks are taken off the road and scrapped. Mostly, we can expect to see a difference when people use the brains the Almighty gave them and realise that every time they get into a vehicle they must drive with caution.

So, Gary, why don’t we all work hard and push for these strategies to be implemented? This is a whole lot better than sitting around waiting for strategies to be suggested that we do not think are worthwhile or workable.

Ms Seedat's letter so impressed us here at Wheels24 that we asked for some information about her. For the fatcats in government - provincial and national - it turns out she's the kind of caring, working South African to whom you should be listening. Here's what she told us...

"I work for a leading health care company as an events co-ordinator, specifically medical congresses and academic meetings.

"My association with the auto trade is simply that of a South African road user who, like millions of others, has been touched by the tragedy that plays out on our roads every day. I observe my fellow drivers daily, speeding needlessly and carelessly while on their cellphones with their precious cargo (children) sitting unrestrained or, worse, standing between the two front seats.


"I am tired of endless criticism with no constructive alternatives or suggestions being offered and lack of action while things fall apart.  I sent off a mail to the transport ministry and various provincial transport MEC's regarding the shareholder committee decision to shut down the RTMC earlier in the week.

"I think it quite absurd that the stated reason for the decision was that the agency just did not deliver on its mandate when they as the shareholder committee were silent on the agency's inadequacies until February 2013. Where were the interventions and guidance from the shareholder committee over the years? The only response I received was from (Western Cape) MEC Robin Carlisle clarifying the reason behind his decision. Nobody else replied.

"We are a nation suffering from inertia, we sit around waiting for somebody to act and that gets us nowhere."

Email us and we’ll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

Read more on:    road safety  |  robin carlisle

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