New traffic unit launched
Johannesburg - A new national traffic police unit has been established because the road network is poorly policed, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Tuesday.
"The situation at present is that our national road network is poorly policed because enforcement authorities are focusing on their network, occasionally venturing onto national roads," he said in a statement.
The ministry said 231 new traffic officers received special training over the past nine months and they would now make up the national traffic police intervention unit (NIU).
"This unit will intensify the policing of our national network. The NIU is a specialised intervention force that is now available for deployment to deal with any traffic situation in the country," said Ndebele.
"These men and women have also received training in advanced driving, interpersonal communications, anti-corruption, dealing with diplomatic personnel, first aid and incident management."
The NIU would from time to time be involved in joint operations with provincial traffic authorities, metro police, the SA Police Service, the Cross Border Road Transport Agency, military police and other agencies.
"We must expect to see this unit very soon at roadside checkpoints, multi-disciplinary roadblocks, high impact visibility patrols, unmarked patrols and alcohol test centres."
This was in line with South Africa's participation in the international 2011-2020 Decade of Action campaign to reduce road fatalities.
Ndebele said efforts were being made to upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, improve emergency trauma care, promote road safety education, and enhance road safety management.
The ministry expected every province in South Africa to reduce road deaths by 50% by 2014.
"We will also announce details on the provision of a more secure, tamper-proof licence card as part of the Decade of Action, and unveil details on the roll-out of the driver licence campaign for young people of 18 years of age," he said in a statement.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million people die on the roads and 50 million sustain injuries every year.
In South Africa, 14 000 people die in road crashes annually.