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Policing, respect: Freeway to road safety

2015-02-09 08:50


VISIBLE ROAD POLICING: Wheels24 reader JACO LABUSCHAGNE calls for visible road policing, unroadworthy vehicles to be checked and impounded and for a "fear of being" caught to instilled in SA drivers. Image: SAPA

Road crashes are unfortunately a function of not obeying the law. Obedience of the law is a two-level argument. There is the “fear of being caught” and the “willingness to obey” though unfortunately, due to the former, the latter is detrimentally affected.

Culturally, South Africans have been brought up in a society of civil disobedience. This has resulted in a general lack of respect of the law (“willingness to obey”). Unfortunately, this is also a tough one to bridge.

There are two aspects that need to be dealt with:
 1 Reduce the number rules that are not enforceable.
 2 Increase the amount of active and passive enforcement.


Do you stop at every single stop sign (and I mean EVERY SINGLE stop sign)? Do you drive at 60km/h in EVERY urban street? These are just two example of where people flagrantly disobey the rules of the road, without any repercussions.

The second point is that should a lot of stop signs not be changed to yield signs? Realistically, I would venture that probably 60% of intersections with stop signs (particularly those that are four-way stops) do not justify a full stop from all parties.

These could do with a yield sign. If we do this, surely there will be an increased appreciation of a stop sign. When it says stop it means stop.


Think about the time when KZN said that they have a zero tolerance approach to speeding Gautengers. They went out and bought 50 cameras and put them on ALL the N2. As a result there was no incentive to speed because you were GUARANTEED to be caught somewhere along the line.

 I believe that if there are more than two crashes on a road in a given year (probably caused by speed), then speed traps should be put up. No questions, no debate, the cameras should just be setup. Note that I use plural not singular.

If it means that there are three cameras on the road then so be it (not all of them should be “active” but they would still enforce safety). For example, government could use advertising gantries such as the one on Malibongwe on the south side of the N1. It could easily be used to put up a static speed camera.

In fact, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) could build gantries and lease them to advertising agencies and make double money off the systems.

Secondly, the practice of the JMPD to put the same cops on the same piece of road every single day (think Republic road outside Hurlingham Manor) means that people will only stop speeding on THAT road. The habit of speeding on that road will be broken but it means that the habit is not broken elsewhere.


Speed traps are supposed to be random. This will create a fear of being caught which will result in a willingness to obey. Also, speed traps should not be a delayed effect. If you see a car speeding, pull him over, make him wait and irritate the bejesus out of them (even if you do not fine the person say with a 1-10km/h limit transgression).

At the same time, you can check for road worthiness (while the car is pulled over, use this  system automatically).
The pattern of JMPD cops sitting behind the same tree taking photos of cars does not improve the chances of catching people driving cars that are not road worthy (a second major contributor to road deaths).

Also, given the nature of the South African Post office, it does not improve the rate of collection because nobody is getting the fines that they are being issued with. In other words there is no “fear of being caught”.

The fear of being caught will also (eventually) drive people to drink less on the road (if policed properly)
Anyway, that’s my two cents worth.

Read more on:    south africa  |  crash  |  road safety  |  your wheels

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