Speed saga: More from the public

2012-09-19 13:07

I have had it. For years I've driven conscientiously and obeyed the traffic regulations while watching growing numbers of people transgress the rules with impunity. Offences range from technical – such as removing the front licence plate, a habit of Tony Yengeni, apparently – to the downright dangerous such as driving through red traffic lights.

I have even seen police cars do this and once nearly hit a police car which had driven straight through a stop sign without stopping. What's particularly striking is the absence of visible policing and the increase of offences. Not a day goes by without me seeing a number of offences. Based on conversations and comments I hear on the radio, I am not the only one who feels that the number of such incidents is on the rise because the authorities do not do anything about them.


And now this bungling piece of legislation from a minister who is clearly out of his depth when it comes to dealing with the problem of lawless drivers. If he thinks that reducing the speed limit will solve the problems, he is very seriously mistaken. The following points are worth noting:

1. A number of effective traffic regulations exist to control traffic and are not enforced. More effort is directed towards catching motorists who speed rather than those who commit dangerous moving violations. One merely has to drive anywhere in Cape Town to witness these. The fact that motorists know they will not be caught and punished means that this behaviour is on the increase.

2. When I first started driving there was a large presence of traffic police on the roads and much less evidence of rule transgression than is currently the case. There seems to be a link between these facts.

3. The emphasis on speeding is misguided and ignores other dangerous offences as well as the existence of unlicensed drivers or those who just drive dangerously. The list of dangerous offences includes swerving, lane changing without signalling, tailgating, cutting in front of others, unroadworthy vehicles and parking on corners or at traffic lights, to name a few. Speeding is indeed a factor in accidents on occasion, but much more so when some of these other factors are also present.

4. The reckless behaviour of pedestrians should be taken into account when tallying accident statistics. It is unfair to target only motorists and ignore pedestrians who invite accidents by their behaviour on the streets.

5. The assertion that research shows that cutting speed saves lives is nonsense and misses the point entirely. It is far better to prevent accidents than to try to minimise the damage by reducing speed. Why does the department not concentrate on enforcing existing regulations instead? As an example I can relate a personal experience where, during the recent heavy rains we had in Cape Town, I drove past the Cape Town Castle one day and saw a traffic policeman hiding in the back of a bakkie with a speed camera, trying to catch speeders. Not 30 metres past him the road was flooded, causing motorists to brake and swerve dangerously around the puddle which almost blocked the road.

There is no doubt that the traffic officer would have been better deployed in directing traffic around the blockage and trying to clear it rather than trying to catch somebody speeding. One has to question the department’s policies in such a situation.

6. How does the department intend to enforce this new measure when it can’t even enforce current measures?

7. How does the department intend to enforce the passing distance of 1.5m between a car and a bicycle? I submit it is impossible and a mere attempt at grandstanding.

8. Carlisle’s attempt to explain his actions by way of using statistics is disingenuous. He is well aware that by cherry-picking statistics, almost anything can be proved. One statistic is not enough to make his argument and can easily be countered with another.


I attach a photo taken on Thursday September 6 showing the kind of reckless and dangerous behaviour which goes unpunished. This by an official vehicle, no less, which was parked on that spot from at least 12.05pm until I took the photo at 12.15pm. It is precisely this kind of behaviour which should be punished and infuriates law-abiding motorists who see such offenders as responsible for the kind of legislation planned.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this measure is no more than a cynical attempt to raise money by enlarging the net for motorists who are easy to catch and fine, rather than those who are the real culprits for the accidents. Carlisle, already infamous for his indifference to the view of voters in the Chapmans Peak toll saga, would do well to consider the views of people in this matter before he forces through his intended legislation.

Anybody else care to enlarge on / disagree with Charlie's assessment? Carlisle or his media people, perhaps? email feedback@wheels24.co.za

  • klaas.waarzegger.7 - 2012-09-19 14:13

    It is not the time for the DA to pass unpopular legislation. It will cost them dearly at the polls. This is almost as stupid as KZN education banning school trips to curb traffic related deaths. Please give this guy a portfolio that keeps him so buzy that he dont have the time to come up with hogwash like this.

  • don.quioxte.3 - 2012-09-19 15:12

    Do your job properly and stop the brain-farts.

  • roger.verrall - 2012-09-19 16:08

    Better enforcement of Stop Signs, Crossing Barrier Lines and safe following distances would probably have a measurable effect on traffic safety within a relatively short time. Not suggesting these are the only ones but the first two are fairly easily policed. Not sure about policing safe following distance - maybe just driver education.

  • lacrimose.wolf - 2012-09-19 17:16

    They could finance the entire Western Cape Traffic Dept with one week's enforcement on M5 --> N1 interchange.

  • syd.harling - 2012-09-19 22:51

    You have got it spot-on Charlie. Speed doesn't kill, stopping abruptly from speed can kill but its similar to the maxim: guns don't kill people, people kill people. Speed per se isn't a problem its the idiots who drive badly who are problem. SA is too keen to solve problems by throwing more legislation at it instead of simply enforcing existing legislation. It should be all about VISIBLE POLICING. In the UK they warn you about speed cameras (even mobile ones) and still paint them bright yellow. here they camouflage them so who is interested in road safety and who is interested in revenue collection?

  • philip.higgo - 2012-09-20 00:39

    Spot on! (one of the better articles re this ridiculous proposal). Add this: the proven fact that concentration decreases accordingly - people are already meandering along in a could not care less `switched off` state in the righthand lane, unlawfully blocking the flow of traffic with impunity. I trust the DA will realize that Carlisle`s folly could cost them dearly amongst the voters that count.....

  • cherryl.lunt - 2012-09-20 05:45

    So agree with your comments. Carlisle seems obsessed with new powers and got so excited about regular roadworthy tests when he and his officers are not able to enforce the laws that are already in place. Every single day I see cars with no tail lights - you don't need an annual roadworthy test to tell you that car should not be on the road. Use the powers you have instead of looking for more and more legislation!

  • michael.cocklin - 2012-09-20 08:26

    How much will the replacement of all the speed signs across the province cost??? Can this money not be better spent on the service delivery issues and housing for the less fortunate in the province? By reducing the speed limit it will mean that I spend about 70 hours extra on the road every year, thus increasing the chances of me having an accident. In my opinion the more time spent on the road and not the speed is what increases the chance of the accidents.

  • VWhitepaw - 2012-09-20 09:00

    Dam... I had a nice video of JHB Metro 4x4, in Braynston. Driving into a disabled parking, getting out and buying food at the cafee next to the disabled parking bay. They seems to have a competition amongst them self's for who had the biggest cloth size. The video showed the parking lot nearly empty. The video got overwritten before I could move it off the video recorder in the car... else another youtube show.

  • victor.windsor - 2012-09-20 09:18

    I was going to work one morning into the city centre JHB and a Metro police vehicle overtook all the cars on the wrong side of the road and continued straight up to the robot and then turned left in front of all the vehicles he had just overtaken, without any lights on or sirens going,and you want us the public to start obeying traffic regulations, please, this bunch are 1000 times worse

  • trevor.lea.92 - 2012-09-20 09:39

    Although i dont support the 10km drop, and in some instances i think the limits could be increased e.g vangaurd drive should be 80km/h, I do support the 30-40km/h zone in residential streets. I think that Robin Carlisle is being proactive although this call is misconstrued. Anyway we have all over the city these nice electronic displays so lets use them to adjust the speed limits according to traffic conditions. Also give taxis emergency vehicle status, blue lights and all...but come down hard on them when they perform dangerous maneuvers..taxi's flouting the law is the reason we have become less law abiding as a nation.

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