Buckle up, or be fined, Martins warns

2013-04-08 22:17
Ben Martins (File: Sapa)

Ben Martins (File: Sapa)

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Pretoria - A national clamp down is in the offing to ensure all people in vehicles use safety belts, Transport Minister Ben Martins said on Monday.

Releasing the preliminary Easter holiday death toll in Pretoria, Martins said most South Africans did not understand the importance of safety belts.

"Our people are so relaxed with the [use of] safety belts. They tell you that it is uncomfortable. With that frame of mind we still have a serious challenge," he said.

"People need to realise that safety comes before comfort and beauty."

Martins said only two percent of rear seat passengers buckle up.

"In most vehicles we stopped, we found that only the driver wears the seat belt. The majority of rear seat passengers simply do not utilise seat belts even when roadblocks are conducted," he said.

"We have asked traffic officers to be more strict on people who do not utilise seat belts. We would like to see a situation where motorists and passengers attract a fine for not wearing the seat belts."

Martins said drivers would take the ultimate responsibility if passengers failed to use safety belts.

"In public transport, when you stop a minibus kombi [taxi], at best you find the driver and the passenger next to the driver wearing their seat belts but everyone else would not be wearing them," he said.

"More than 30% of fatalities which occur on our roads are a result of rear seat passengers not wearing seat belts.

"If people don’t heed the simple message of road safety, then we have to institute a punitive measure in their own interest."

Preliminary figures indicated that at least 241 people died in 201 road accidents over the Easter holiday.

"It is regrettable and [a] sad reality that this year's preliminary road fatality figure is higher than that of last year, which was 217 as a result of 181 fatal crashes," said Martins.

"The final figures will be released once the SA Police Service and the traffic officials have reconciled the available information," he said.

Most of those who died were pedestrians.

He said 250 000 vehicles were stopped during the holiday, and 79 056 fines were issued. Altogether 1 039 licences were suspended and 1 024 vehicles impounded.

"A total of 864 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Approximately 600 of these motorists were arrested in urban areas," he said.

The 2013 Easter weekend began on 28 March and ended on 1 April.

It coincided with school holidays and took place at the end of the month, which heightened traffic volumes, said Martins.

Regarding the contentious e-tolling of Gauteng roads, Martins said the project would be put into practice.

"I would like to assure you that e-tolling is on track. The bill has its passage in the National Assembly of Parliament. Right now it is with the National Council of Provinces and thereafter we implement.

"Get your e-toll tags and get a discount." said Martins.


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