More road arrests needed – Ndebele

2012-04-11 13:15

More than 10 000 drivers will be screened for alcohol every month to curb road deaths, according to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele.

“We have noted with concern that continued lawlessness by road users requires constant monitoring, arrests and prosecution,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

“As a result, I have instructed that a minimum of 10 000 motorists be screened every month for alcohol, and drunk pedestrians must be arrested.”

Ndebele was speaking at the launch of the Think Pedestrian campaign.

“Pedestrians alone account for nearly 40% of road fatalities annually, which is preventable,” he said.

“The Think Pedestrian campaign is aimed at stabilising, then reducing these statistics through intensive awareness and education programmes for drivers and pedestrians.”

The campaign was being conducted in conjunction with Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics, and the United Nations.

It would be introduced in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, and extended to the rest of the country later in the year.

Ndebele said “drinking and walking” was as dangerous as drinking and driving.

“There must be a level of predictability when someone is driving. If you see a man walking [on the side of the road], you think he is going to walk straight. That won’t happen if he is drunk.”

Ndebele said there had been a reduction in road accident deaths over the Easter period, but that this was not enough.

“There were at least 181 funerals. In other countries it would not happen, and we drive the same cars.”

He said most of the accidents were caused by high speed, dangerous overtaking, fatigue, drinking and driving, and tyre failure.

More than 560 people were arrested for drunk driving, 226 for reckless or negligent driving and 117 for other road-related offences during the holiday.

He said many traffic officers and emergency services personnel went “beyond the call of duty” to keep roads safe during Easter.

“It is really quite touching. When we were patrolling with officers, they would carry on till late on the morning. I could only go until 1am. We would share hamburgers and it would raise morale. Their presence is important,” Ndebele said.

“Once, there were 37 cars abandoned near a roadblock. The drivers got out and ran away into the bushes.
Mostly, it was for not having a licence or being drunk, but now that awareness is there.”

He said drivers needed to be more tolerant of other road users, such as cyclists and joggers.

“We associate driving a car with maturity. Here, you are 18 [years-old] and you can put a government into power, but let’s see if you can take a car without killing anyone.”

He said people who died in accidents were important to their families and the country, and people needed to learn from their deaths.

“We are talking about breadwinners, young mothers, young fathers, ” he said.

“There is the saying that it is the living that close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who should open the eyes of the living.”

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