Editorial: Enough talk; time to act

A taxi accident has claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy. (Rescue Care)
A taxi accident has claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy. (Rescue Care)

Another 1 714 people lost their lives on South Africa’s roads over the festive season. The figure is 5% higher than the previous year and much finger-pointing has been done regarding who or what causes accidents on our roads.

But we have been here before. South Africa seems unable to move forward and curb road accidents once and for all.

Year after year – following the December or Easter holidays’ road accidents – government announces new plans to deal with the carnage, but we seem unable to get it right.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said measures were in place to address road accidents, including consequences for driving under the influence, speeding, using unroadworthy vehicles and driving with falsified or illegally obtained licences.

And traffic authorities in Gauteng have vowed to deal with the illegal issuing of licences by officials, who put incompetent drivers on the road – thereby increasing the risk of road deaths.

Peters said implementing the points demerit system would be an added measure in discouraging recklessness on the road. But we have been waiting for the system to kick in for years, with no explanation for why it has yet to be enforced.

The Automobile Association says the high visibility of traffic officers should be a year-round occurrence, and not reserved for holiday season.

We know this, yet authorities continue to prioritise the holidays. This contributes to bad driver behaviour as road hogs only see officers at the roadside over the holidays, yet are free to drive as they please the rest of the year.

The time for being nice is over. Road deaths are unacceptable and drastic measures should be implemented at once. In Dubai, drunk drivers are fined more than R70 000 or sent to jail, and even have their licences confiscated.

In South Africa, drivers get fined minimal amounts for exceeding the 120km/hour speed limit, and those found driving drunk manage to bribe their way out of trouble.

It is time examples were made of officers found accepting bribes or selling licences. This should detract those intent on committing similar acts and encourage a culture of whistle-blowing among colleagues.

Drivers should learn to respect the rules of the road and officers should fine motorists for even the smallest transgression.

In this way, we will create a culture of awareness that road rules should be obeyed to the full all the time, not just during the Easter or December breaks.

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