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Roadblocks in SA: 'Difference between fear and respect'

2016-01-27 09:09

'IT DOESN'T WORK': Wheels24 user Quentin Smit says road blocks are inefficient at making roads safer and reinforce the 'big bully' image of SA's law enforcement. Image: Shutterstock

Quintin Smit

Cape Town - Earlier in January 2016, Wheels24 reported that Cape Town will experience daily roadbloacks. 

The City of Cape Town's Safety and Security Directorate has created an integrated Roadblock Unit, comprising 18 members from various departments including traffic service, metro Police, law enforcement and the Western Cape traffic department.

Wheels24 user Quentin Smit shares his views on roadblocks and why he believes they "don't really work in South Africa". He also has a personal message for the Traffic Department.

Cape Town's daily roadblocks

I suppose these days we have to be grateful for even the slightest action performed by government-run services, given the state of our country.

So forgive me if it sounds a little harsh when I condemn this latest roadblock initiative as nothing more than the next move in the never-ending war on the motorist.

'Change their approach'

The traffic department does not seem to understand that there is a HUGE difference between fear and respect, and motorists will never respect traffic law enforcement if they themselves drive around as if they are above the law.

Most of all, I will never have any respect for traffic law enforcement unless they change their approach to law enforcement.

If we boil their job description down to a single line it should read "Make South Africa's roads safer", but their current approach reads more like "Catch as many law breakers as we can, in order to collect money from fines".


Do you think regular road blocks will curb drunk drivers and car thieves? Will the new unit clampdown on illegal street racing in the City? Email us your thoughts.

So if I could say anything to the Traffic Department, it would be this:

Your current tactics of bullying, fear and trying to 'catch people out' in order to generate as much revenue as possible, is not effective in preventing death on our roads. The families of road victims do not care that you issued R300 000 in fines over a single weekend, if you couldn't catch the one drunk driver that killed their son.

  • Focus on the real problems, reckless and inconsiderate driving is a far bigger cause of accidents than someone straying slightly north of 120km/h on a highway - but putting down a million speed cameras to make some extra money is much easier than stopping reckless drivers.
  • Use camera enforcement, by all means please! BUT, do so effectively, with the aim of slowing motorists down, not just catching them; by then it's too late!
  • Paint cameras bright yellow and don't hide them behind bushes. The more visible the better, because no-one is going to speed past one of those, and surely slowing drivers down in dangerous areas is a much better result than catching them when they've already driven through the area at twice the limit?
  • Place cameras in areas where it really is dangerous to exceed the speed limits; making them bright and clearly visible will force people to slow down, even if they never catch anyone, at least no-one will be killed there either.

Read: Traffic blitz - Capetonians can expect daily roadblocks 

Road blocks are great for catching unlicensed drivers, unroadworthy cars and drunk drivers, but they are an absolute pain when they cause massive traffic jams in the process.

Compared to visible patrolling, road blocks are painfully inefficient at making roads safer, and again reinforce the 'big bully' image of traffic enforcement.

Traffic officers should be an example to other road users, they should be respected - but you will never win the respect of other road users by bullying them, by declaring war on them and by primarily treating them like a source of income.

Show us that you ARE more interested in road safety rather than simply making money out of us. Tell us what you have done to prevent road deaths rather than threatening us with all the new and exciting ways you've come up with to milk us for more money.

Don't be so proud of the R300k in fines you issued last weekend - you should see THAT as a failure, because by the time you issue a fine, the offense has already been committed and could have potentially caused an accident already; prevention is a victory, not catching law breakers after the fact.

Road deaths WILL NOT be reduced unless motorists respect the law, and the officers enforcing those laws - and that kind of respect is earned, not forced down on people.


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