Lower speed limit won't help - experts

Durban - The call by Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele to reduce speed limits from 120km/h to 100km/h on national roads was greeted with cynicism by transport experts on Tuesday.

Ndebele said the carnage on the country’s roads has reached a crisis point. He then announced that the transport ministry intends to request a review of the legislation governing speed limits on national roads.

The announcement was made at the scene of yet another horrific accident on the N2 between Empangeni and Mtubatuba in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where a collision between a minibus taxi and a van towing a trailer claimed 10 lives.

“This unnecessary loss of lives on a daily basis calls for a serious review of the current status quo. We cannot afford to have this situation continue like this,” Ndebele said.

In August alone 76 people were reportedly killed in eight separate accidents. Fifty people are reported to have to have died using public transport already this month.

Not compliant

The minister says he will ask Cabinet to look into the possibility of reducing the current 120km/h speed limit to 100km/h.

He also encouraged citizens to use the transport hotline number, 0861 400800, to report all road offences and vehicles that appear to be unroadworthy.

He said traffic law enforcers cannot be everywhere at any given time, hence their call to the public to take responsibility for road safety and work with the government in its efforts to curb the carnage on the roads.

“We will continue to deploy traffic officials in strategic and critical parts on our roads to increase visibility, but we call on members of the public to partner with us and help us police areas that we cannot reach,” said Ndebele.

Gary Ronald, spokesperson for the Automobile Association (AA), said the association will not support the minster’s call.

“Our feeling is that this will only generate revenue through speeding fines rather than save lives on the road, because South Africans have shown that they are not a compliant nation.”

Ronald said monitoring average speeds, as is done on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal, may help to reduce SA’s road carnage.

A road safety consultant, Rob Handfield-Jones, said minibus taxis and buses are already limited to 100km/h since the tragic bus accident that claimed the lives of dozens of British tourists in 1990, but instead of declining, road deaths have been steadily increasing over the past decade.

Jeff Wicks of Netcare911 and Derrick Banks of ER24 both said speed is not the problem - drivers who don’t obey the rules of the road are.

- What speeds are other countries doing?

100km/h - New Zealand, Lebanon, Norway, Poland, Cyprus
60-80km/h - Macau
80km/h - India, Serbia
90km/h - Singapore,Slovenia, Iceland
100km/h New Zealand, Norway
113km/h (70mph) - UK
120 km/h - Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Thailand, Ireland
140km/h Poland (motorways)
Germany’s autobahn - No speed limit but 130km/h is recommended.
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