IS THERE A WAY? News24 user SkerP says most laws are not being enforced to help reduce road deaths and crashes in SA. Image: ER24
News24 user SkerP has responded to Wheels24 user Paul Chinchen's suggestions to reduce road deaths on South African roads - especially during the festive season.
Chinchen's suggestions were sparked by the 2015/16 festive season statistics which saw a large increase in the number of road fatalities as well as crashes.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters expressed her concern over the high number of fatalities on the road due to reckless drivers.
Read: Grim toll: Huge increase in SA road deaths
From Dec 1 2015 to January 11 2016 the Department of Transport (DoT) reports 1387 fatal crashes on the road and road fatalities increased by 220 (14%) from 1535 over the same period in the previous year to 1755.
Allow me to respond to each item, in italics...
Read: '11 ways to reduce SA road deaths'
1 Each province must have a department dedicated to bringing their death toll down and they must be heavily incentivised to do so. Each province HAS its own department. Not seeing why they must be incentivised to reduce the death toll... IT'S THEIR JOB!
2 National roads must be split into two separate roads - going one way and one going the other. This will eliminate head on collisions. Not practical - SANRAL spent billions on 175km of Gauteng roads, addressing the whole national road network would cost orders of magnitude more. Also, the freeways and main national roads are hardly the problem. The problem lies with the less patrolled and managed secondary roads. KZN has one of the busiest national roads, and saw a reduction in their death toll.
Head on collisions will be reduced when drivers are punished for driving dangerously, ergo, into oncoming traffic, or overtaking up blind rises. Points to lack of enforcement.
3 Light vehicles should be able to travel in the right-hand lane at 140km/her hour on National roads. Less time on the road = less fatigue. Lousy idea. Traveling 16% less is insignificant. And given one has to share the road with slower traffic, chances are, you'll only achieve a 10% improvement. The problem comes in that the differential in speed between a car doing 140, and a truck doing 80, becomes dangerous. Double the speed differential, you quadruple the energy expended in a collision.
4 Heavy vehicles must stay in the left-hand lane and be restricted to 100km/h on National roads. Trucks are already limited to 100, some to 80km/h, lack of enforcement. See point 3 above - we need to keep the trucks moving at higher speed, to reduce the speed differential. By and large trucks do tend to keep left.
Read: 'SA road deaths tragic but not surprising'
5 Limits must be placed on the duration of journeys made by truck drivers. Already in place, not enforced.
6 Everyone must wear seat belts at all times. Already in place. Not enforced.
7 Passengers may not be transported on the back of bakkies or trucks. Here I wholeheartedly agree. But if the law is changed to prohibit this mode of transport, will there be proper enforcement?
8 Babies and young children must be in age-appropriate, safety tested and graded car seats. Already in place, to a degree. Woefully poorly enforced.
9 No drinking and driving. Already in place, not enforced. It has even become a thing of bravado... "I don't know how I got home last night, I was so drunk."
10 Traffic lights MUST work. We have laws that dictate what should happen in the event of a faulty traffic light. Not enforced.
11 Full crash stats updated daily must be available for all to see. Not sure how this contributes to road safety. The results get announced, there is outrage, and then we move onto the next scandal. There is no political will to see things through.
What should be done?
What it all boils down to is enforcement. We have good laws, we have stiff penalties, we have an AARTO system with points deductions, that could lead to a repeat offender losing their licence. We have multiple traffic authorities, well resourced with officers and shiny, fast vehicles. These cops simply don't enforce the laws we have. Speed trapping serves only as a revenue stream to the appropriate authority, and moving violations are seldom policed. If you do get pulled off for such an offence, you pay a small bribe, and get sent on your way.
Sort out the enforcement issue, you sort out the death toll. As per Australia, Sweden, the UK and Germany. Stick to the same old way of doing things, like us and the USA, expect the carnage to continue.