A warning to rogue drivers

2012-12-30 10:00

Festive season road death toll rockets to an alarming 1 070

Road traffic authorities will charge all drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents over the festive season with murder.

The announcement on Friday by Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesperson Ashref Ismail comes as the death toll for this festive season rocketed to an alarming 1 070 from about 890 fatal crashes.

Yesterday, two people died and three others were injured in an accident near Coligny in North West.

A family were travelling to Mahikeng when the driver lost control of the vehicle, killing two people. A nine-year-old girl was among the injured.

Ismail told City Press that prosecution teams were on stand-by to fast-track murder prosecutions of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes.

“We are losing 42 people a day on our roads. This is something to be very worried about. We cannot allow this to continue,” he said.

“We will be taking very decisive action as government against those who drink and drive and cause accidents, and those who drive recklessly and put other people’s lives at risk.”

On Thursday morning, four people died and

Altogether, 18 major fatal crashes – in which more than four people have died – have occurred on the roads this festive season, claiming 95 lives between them.

Ismail said all offenders caught for reckless or negligent driving – including overtaking on barrier lines and excessive speeding – would be arrested on the spot.

So far, 123 drivers across the nation had been subjected to spot arrests. They all appeared incourt – on the following day – in the magisterial district in which they were arrested. Of 18 major accidents, 11 had been caused by people overtaking on the barrier line.

Their problems would not end there, however.

All drivers convicted of reckless or negligent driving would be forced to undergo their learner’s and driver’s tests from scratch.

Said Ismail: “The courts will deal with the criminal side of things. We will ensure that the compliance side of things is dealt with as well. At present, around 20% of drivers cause 80% of the problems through recklessness and problem driving. We will do what is necessary to either make sure they change their driving habits or are removed from the roads.

“People blame taxi drivers, but it is drivers of SUVs with unsecured children; drivers of caravans; truck drivers who flout the law. It is the same people who will not slow down for an accident; who will speed; who will overtake on a barrier line. It is these rogue drivers who we need to target and remove from our roads.

“We cannot continue to have families who abide by the law wiped out by people who simply do not care.”

He added: “A driver’s licence is the property of the state, not the individual. It is a privilege, not a right. If you are a rogue driver, you are marked. We will get you off the road, sooner or later.”

Ismail said the death toll thus far was “very similar” to last festive season’s. “We’re creating a sense of urgency as we still have two very crucial weekends ahead. We cannot allow people to become complacent, or become complacent ourselves.”

Transport Minister Ben Martins is also concerned about the high death toll.

“It can’t be considered normal that despite all efforts by government, private sector and civil society to enforce the rules of the road and raise awareness about road safety, that we continue to witness the loss of lives on our roads at this scale,” he said.

“Those who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs must be locked up, for they pose a danger not only to themselves but to society.”

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