Arrive Alive not a success

2015-04-30 16:58

SOUTH AFRICA’s Arrive Alive Campaign was introduced in 1997 after a delegation had visited the state of Victoria in Australia to learn about road-safety measures.

This campaign usually enjoys the spotlight during Christmas and the Easter holiday season in South Africa when motorists travel across the country.

In 2013 nearly 12 200 people died on South African roads while 1 193 people died on Australian roads in the same year.

“South Africa loses an estimated R306 billion annually due to road accidents when one considers emergency services, loss of skill and compensation paid out by the Road Accident Fund (RAF),” said Transport minister, Dipuo Peters.

An increased budget for the RAF is a contributing factor to the country’s inability to reduce its fiscal deficit which stands at 4,1%. It is reported that there are 18 000 traffic officers who police approximately 10 million vehicles on South African roads.

Since its inception in 1997, the Arrive Alive Campaign’s central theme has been Speed kills and Don’t drink and drive used interchangeably.

These two themes have fallen on deaf ears of motorists and pedestrians alike, as road carnage remains alarmingly high.

It is, therefore, my assertion that the Speed Kills theme has become a redundant rhetoric and a more revolutionary approach is required if we are to keep South Africans alive on our national, provincial and municipal roads.

In December 2014, the office of the Public Protector released a report that an estimated 4 000 Toyota Quantum panel vans had been converted into commuter taxis and were on our roads every day ferrying unsuspecting commuters.

The Department of Transport emphasised as early as 2009 that those vehicles had been illegally converted but, would not be taken off the roads nonetheless.

These vans split open like a tin can upon collision with another vehicle as they were made to carry goods, not passengers.

Some taxi operators admitted that they preferred the converted taxis because they were cheaper to purchase and could be fitted with three extra seats.

There is a myriad of factors that cause road carnage in South Africa which include pedestrians who walk on highways, vehicles that haul trailers with a load heavier than the vehicle itself, un-roadworthy vehicles, drunken driving, corrupt traffic officials and driver fatigue.

To curb all these as we are heading towards the Easter holidays, I think the Department of Transport should provide visible traffic policing within a 100 km radius along national and provincial roads; set up refreshment stations every 200 km along national roads where road users would be provided with free coffee, energy boosters and test kits for blood-sugar levels and also organise mobile testing centres where vehicles are randomly tested for roadworthiness.

Traffic authorities should also confiscate drunken drivers’ vehicles for a minimum of three months and liaise with the Department of Education to introduce road safety as a non-examination subject in schools.

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