We need better policing, not harsher traffic laws

2017-01-11 20:26

Our Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, recently announced that 1 714 people were killed on our roads over the 2016/17 Festive Season – a 5% increase on last year’s figure!

Like the Minister, I’m appalled at the high number of deaths on our roads – such road carnage is totally unacceptable!

The minister’s “knee-jerk” reaction has been, amongst other things, to announce that she intends to lobby for a change in the law to categorise “drunken driving” offences as “Schedule 5” offences – apparently, that’s the same schedule in which the crimes of rape and murder appear.

I presume that this would mean that a person who drinks two glasses of wine, and who is stopped at a road-block, tested for his/her blood-alcohol content, and found to be marginally over the (already very low) legal limit, is now seen by the law as a criminal who is in the same category as a rapist or murderer?

If so, that’s absurd!!

It’s not that I’m condoning “drinking and driving”, but a person who is marginally over the blood-alcohol legal limit is surely not as “criminal” as a person who is “fall-down” drunk.

I’m not sure whether the law distinguishes between these two extremes, but I would certainly hope so!

What I’d really like to know is how many drivers, who drink alcohol, can put their proverbial “hand on the bible” and say that they have NEVER driven a car whilst being over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

How many would there be? Many, or just a few?

If the Minister has her way, those who have driven a car whilst being over the limit will need to realise that, under the new law, they would have committed an offence that is in the same category as rape and murder.

Again, how absurd!!

To me, the issue is very simple - we don’t need harsher laws, we just need to have improved policing of our existing laws.

Laws, no matter how harsh, are useless UNLESS these are properly policed – and that means policing throughout the whole year, and not just over the Festive Season.

The culture of reckless driver behaviour will only change with comprehensive year-round policing!

In my opinion, police presence ON our roads is lacking.

However, for major events, like the Comrades Marathon, thousands of police appear along the route, and at the finish, of the race - but I don’t believe that one sees the same number of police patrolling the freeways, national roads etc during the rest of the year – that’s just my perception.

Police need to focus on getting out ON the road to apprehend/fine dangerous/reckless drivers – there’s no excuse not to get “cast iron” evidence of dangerous/reckless driving, given the low cost of video/Go-Pro cameras (which should be mounted on police cars/motorbikes).

Drivers must know that if they break the laws of the road, there’s a very good chance of them being apprehended and fined – or even imprisoned.

Important as road-blocks and speed-traps are, these do not change dangerous/reckless driving behaviour – “on-the-road” policing is necessary to deal with that.

So, let’s rather start policing our current laws with more vigour and with a different approach – properly policed, these laws are already more than adequate.

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