Traffic cops patrol in full force
Johannesburg - If you think you can escape the road blocks planned for most of the country’s major roads this festive season, think again.
Members of the newly-established national traffic police intervention unit (NIU) have joined other traffic law enforcement units across the nine provinces from this weekend.
The 231-member unit which falls under the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has jurisdiction across the country, unlike provincial traffic and municipal police departments limited by municipal and provincial borders.
Equipped with 4X4 vehicles, which are fitted with state-of-the-art cameras and other detection devices, these traffic officers are able to check the details of any vehicle – for outstanding traffic fines and whether a vehicle is licensed or not – and stop and arrest any motorists.
NIU officers will be conducting operations during the times when accidents are most likely to occur, between 07:00 and 23:00 on Fridays to Sundays.
RTMC expected heavy traffic on the country’s major highways following the end of the school year on Friday.
Motorists have been warned about impatience at traffic operations and building sites and road users are urged to be polite at all times.
The highest volume of traffic is expected over the next two weekends.
RTMC spokesperson Ashref Ismail said the duties of the unit, formed in March and headed by former Johannesburg metro police chief David Tembe, include overseeing national traffic enforcement initiatives, execution of these projects, traffic and policing operations.
"National, provincial and municipal traffic authorities all over the country are on high alert for dangerous driving, including speeding, reckless overtaking, red light infringements, drunken driving, vehicle defects and overloading," Ismail said.
With more than 45% of the 14 000 annual fatalities attributed to pedestrian deaths, the RTMC has also warned pedestrians against"jaywalking", or crossing highways recklessly.
Ismail said drunk pedestrians will be arrested and those walking on the freeway could be fined or imprisoned. “Fines differ depending on the magisterial district,” he said.
Road accidents cost the country about R56bn yearly on lost revenue, medical costs, insurance and lost income. The RTMC will also intensify its campaign to ensure that every traffic officer stops a minimum of 15 vehicles in an eight-hour shift.
Last week, the Western Cape transport department launched its Crash Witness Campaign, which gives the public access to real crash footage.
The department believes that “seeing the reality can get people to slow down, not to drink and drive, to buckle up, to ignore their cellphones and watch out for pedestrians”.