Address by Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele at the official release of the 2009/10 festive season road traffic statistics, Pretoria
26 Jan 2010
In 135 day’s time, the world will descend on Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. South Africa will host 31 countries and numerous supporters. The 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee is responsible for the hosting of this sporting spectacular. The Department of Transport is represented on the board of directors.
South Africa has hosted major international sporting events. Since 1994, we have successfully hosted some of the biggest including the FIFA Confederations Cup, the Indian Premier League, the A1 Grand Prix, World Cup Cricket, the African Cup of Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
During these international events, no major road crashes were reported. Last year’s Confederations Cup provided us with a dry-run in transporting thousands of soccer enthusiasts to the stadiums, fan parks and viewing areas and back. We learnt many lessons from the Confederations Cup. Although we would have liked to see no deaths on our roads during this period, we had a report of one visitor from Germany, freelance journalist Wolfgang Jost, who died in a car crash near Bloemfontein on 24 June 2009 on their way to a Confederations Cup semi-final match between the United States and Spain.
South Africa is a sporting nation, and even here at home we regularly host major local sporting events. During these local matches, thousands of our people use mainly public transport to get to the matches and at times travel long distances to attend matches in different provinces.
During both these international and local events, South African road users, generally, behave well and no major road crashes have been reported. We want to commend them for this and urge them to keep this record.
We have demonstrated that we are capable of behaving well. However, this contrasts sharply with the behaviour of the same South African road user during Easter and Christmas. The Easter and Christmas holiday period is still our nemesis; the behaviour of our road users during these periods is atrocious.
Our behaviour on the roads is not expressive of a free democratic society. We must place more value on human life and exercise respect and democracy on our roads as well. It is not a particular national group, gender group or age group who behave badly on our roads. There is no family driving licence. It is individual behaviour. It is this individual behaviour that we are targeting to change.
Over the last three years, we have seen a slight decrease in the number of road deaths compared to previous years. But the decrease is so minimal that it cannot be attributed to behaviour change.
South Africa has never had so many visitors and road users as we will experience during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is not only about sport; it is more about transport. Our obligation is to ensure that all those who use our roads are able to do so safely.
Let us use the World Cup to build a lasting legacy for the world to return to South Africa, way beyond 2010. Let us use the spirit of the soccer World Cup to cement safer roads, to save lives and to kick road deaths out of our lives.
2009/10 festive season
Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign commenced on 1 December 2009 until 11 January 2010. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), 1 582 deaths (397 drivers, 637 passengers and 548 pedestrians), as a result of 1 247 fatal crashes, were recorded on our country’s roads during this period. The highest number of fatalities was recorded on roads within cities and towns, followed by provincial roads and national roads.
Of the 1 582 road deaths, the provincial breakdown is as follows:
* KwaZulu-Natal: 298
* Gauteng: 237
* Eastern Cape: 213
* Limpopo: 201
* Mpumalanga: 159
* Western Cape: 153
* Free State: 132
* North West: 123
* Northern Cape: 66.
For the same period last year (1 December 2008 to 11 January 2009), 1 655 fatalities were reported.
However, to appreciate this challenge of road deaths, we must move beyond mere statistics. None of these deaths should have happened at all.
How do we arrive at road crash statistics?
When a fatal road crash or a crash with injuries occurs, the area is cordoned off because it becomes a crime scene. Only members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Traffic Police and the Department of Health are authorised to be on the scene. Some people die at the scene of a crash and the SAPS record these deaths and injuries on the scene and others die at hospital while some recover from their injuries. When deaths occur at the hospital, the hospital informs the SAPS. The SAPS then report these deaths to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). The RTMC has been working towards improving our accident reporting systems, in line with the resolution reached at the Moscow Global Road Safety Conference. To this end, the RTMC is in the process of testing a system called the real time accident reporting system, which was demonstrated earlier. We welcome other ways of improving road crash reporting.
During the 2009/10 festive period, law enforcement officers conducted more than 1 500 roadblocks throughout the country and stopped and checked more than 1,2 million vehicles and drivers.
These enforcement operations yielded the following results:
* More than 6 000 vehicles, including 1 536 buses and 1 669 taxis were impounded, suspended and/or discontinued
* More than 5 900 arrests were affected including:
* Drunk driving: 3 917
* Reckless and negligent driving: 314
* Excessive speed: 415
* Overloading: 250
* Public transport offences (taxis, buses): 246
* Driving licences and false documents: 251
* Other offences: 589
* Pedestrians jaywalking: 218
* More than 447 000 speed camera offences were recorded
* The highest speed recorded was 232 km/h in KwaZulu-Natal, where a motorcyclist was arrested and sentenced to a fine of R18 000
* More than 330 000 fines were issued directly to motorists for various other offences.
We want to move with speed and put in place measures that have proven to be effective in reducing the impact of road traffic crashes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Whilst road safety is a key priority of our government, road safety is everybody’s responsibility.
South Africans need to radically change their attitudes and mind-sets towards road safety. We will only reduce the carnage on our roads if traffic offences become totally unacceptable to the people of our country. Zero tolerance for all traffic offences is precisely what road users will be encountering on our roads everyday. Obey the rules or pay the price!
Public transport: bus operators
In terms of the newly promulgated National Land Transportation Act, all national services, such as Greyhound, Roadlink and so on, will be licensed by the national transport regulator. This has already become operative in the tourism sector. We have legislation in place which provides for cases where provincial or municipal law enforcement is ineffective, national intervention is possible. In this regard, I have taken a decision to implement that relevant provision of the law in cases which deem necessary.
Pivotal role played by stakeholders
It is fitting, at this stage, to thank all road traffic safety role-players who worked around the clock during the past festive season to save lives on our roads. These include all Traffic Officers, the South African Police Services, South African National Blood Services, South African National Defence Force, Emergency Services (Ambulance Services, Fire Services, and Disaster Management), the Department of Health, the RTMC, the Road Accident Fund as well as various other private sector and non-governmental organisations and individuals. Our thanks and appreciation also goes to the various media houses and transport communicators who played a pivotal role in assisting us to spread our road safety messages.
Rolling enforcement plan
To stem the tide of high-and-low fluctuating road crashes, we need strategic responses which will compel us to come up with interventions that have a rich strategic content, and to avoid kneejerk reactions as well as unstructured piecemeal interventions. To this end, we will soon be meeting with traffic station commanders from all over the country. We are also considering the introduction of a national traffic intervention unit, which will be based in Pretoria and will be able to be deployed at traffic hotspots around the country as and when necessary.
The national rolling enforcement plan will be further strengthened and extended to ensure seamless harmonisation of high impact enforcement operations. Each month, there will be special focal areas in respect of driver and vehicle fitness, while the critical issue of pedestrians will be addressed through an intensified education and communication plan.
Implementation of Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) in 2010
The current traffic law enforcement system is not effective and if we want to stop counting bodies every year we have to change it. The system involves issuing of traffic fines with an option of going to court. Our courts are already overburdened with many criminal cases and traffic offences are not prioritised by the justice system. Courts are inundated with criminal cases such as rape, murder, robberies and ATM bombings. This has placed a tremendous strain on our court resources resulting in traffic offences during 2008 only being heard in October 2010 and into 2011.
This is further exacerbated by the lawlessness on our roads. Currently, for the Johannesburg Metro Police Department there are 201 779 traffic offences on the court roll for 2010 for offences committed during 2008. A total of 53 809 traffic offences could not be accommodated and are pending a court date after October 2010 and into 2011. For the Cape Town Metro, a total of 132 226 traffic cases are on the court roll up to October 2010. Traffic offences during the current year will of necessity have to be heard during 2011/12 and into 2013.
Drivers simply ignore paying traffic fines and do not even bother to go to court because they know that nothing will happen to them, since their cases are not prioritised and, in many instances, withdrawn. The implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO), as of this new financial year (2010/11), will change this situation. It will relieve the burden from the court system and allow the courts to focus on more urgent matters. It will also contribute to more effective and efficient finalisation of road traffic cases.
AARTO also makes provision for the introduction of the point’s demerit system, which encourages good behaviour and discourages bad behaviour on the part of drivers. AARTO is about changing the behaviour of South African drivers. Habitual offenders may even find themselves being deprived of the convenience of driving a car and will be forced to use a lift club or public transport. If you want to continue driving a car, you must behave responsibly and considerately. If you don’t, we will take away your driving licence. This will cost some people their livelihoods. It will cost others their freedom.
Community road safety councils
During February, we will be hosting a Road Safety Summit. We call upon all interested organisations and individuals to join us at this summit in order to address the carnage on our roads. Together, we must all do much more to reduce the economic and emotional devastation caused by road crashes and road deaths. We, therefore, call on vehicle manufacturers, public and private donors, non-governmental organisations, the religious sector, victims of road crashes, families of those killed and injured in road crashes, experts and in fact every South African to partner with government in working towards safer roads and vehicles and greater investment in preventing road traffic injuries. The millions of people who use our roads everyday deserve safer roads.
Community road safety councils will soon be part of every municipality in the country.
We want as many stakeholders as possible to actively participate in these road safety councils, which will empower communities to identify road safety challenges and interventions in their respective localities and to act as ambassadors for road safety. The road safety councils will also provide assistance to communities to access the benefits provided by the Road Accident Fund. If we work in harmony, side by side, we will achieve our common goal of safer roads and responsible road users.
Changes to the Road Accident Fund
On 18 November 2009, Cabinet approved the Road Accident Fund draft no-fault policy for publication for consultation and public comments. The present fault-based compensation system is not achieving the purpose for which it was created. The draft no-fault policy proposes major changes to the motor vehicle accident compensation scheme for personal injury or death. The overall aim is to provide an effective benefit system which is reasonable, equitable, affordable and sustainable in the long term. The Road Accident Fund will work closely with the community road safety councils in ensuring survivors of road collisions receive appropriate post collision care and compensation. They will educate communities, especially the poor and assist them to access the care that will help them deal with the death/s of loved ones and/or any injuries they may have sustained and to continue leading normal lives.
A decade of action for road safety
In July last year, together with other Transport Ministers from the African continent, we attended the international Africa Make Roads Safe Conference held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. At that conference, we recommitted ourselves to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the resolutions taken at the 2007 Accra Road Safety Conference. We declared that we wanted to improve road safety and halve the number of road fatalities by the year 2015.
In November, we were honoured to attend the first Global United Nations Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Moscow, Russia.
From Dar es Salaam in July to Moscow in November, road safety has now, for the first time ever and rightly so, been elevated to the urgent attention of the world. At this conference, we learnt how countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany, among others, have managed to drastically reduce motor vehicle collisions. These countries managed to reduce collisions despite the fact that they have a much bigger motor vehicle population compared to ours. They faced some of the same problems as we do, including irresponsible and inconsiderate driver behaviour, reckless driving and blatant disregard for traffic laws. One of the most successful interventions is the point’s demerit system.
In Russia, Ministers approved the Moscow Declaration which, again, calls for a decade of action for road safety 2010 to 2020. This historic conference also agreed to hold a follow-up Ministerial Conference in five years time to review progress made. In Moscow, South Africa called for a global partnership against road deaths and for safety on our roads. As partners, we all believe that it can't be ok that, as United Kingdom Transport Minister Paul Clark reminded delegates in Moscow, during the two days of the summit 7 000 people had died on roads around the world. As partners, we believe, in equal measure, that it can't be okay for 1,3 million people to die each year on the world’s roads. In this new national, yet global, partnership we all must never think it is ok for 20 to 50 million people to sustain severe injuries on our roads. This cannot be ok. We must all rise and join this movement because road deaths are not accidents, but are avoidable and deadly incidents.
Torch of Peace
We want to take this opportunity to thank our Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, for taking the time to be with us today to receive the Torch of Peace. The Torch of Peace forms a link between the 16 Days of Activism Campaign and other national campaigns against crime and violence, including our Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign. It promotes safety and human dignity which is precisely what must be promoted on our roads.
We also know that we have the support of Minister Motshekga in our plans to work with the Department of Basic Education to introduce road safety education as part of the life skills curriculum at schools, and to ensure that learners in Grade 11 are able to acquire their learner’s licences and their driving licences as they complete Grade 12.
The number of road deaths in South Africa is totally unacceptable. We cannot continue treating road deaths as normal when we are facing death by design, death by human error, death through carelessness, death through drunkenness, all of which can be stopped. Almost all deaths on the road can be avoided because 90 percent of road crashes are caused by human error. Contributory factors for crashes and fatalities in South Africa include human error (60 to 90 percent), vehicles (15 to 30 percent), road factors (5 to 20 percent) and environmental factors (3 to 5 percent).
The reality is: if we continue today as we did yesterday, if we continue today as if there was no urgency, if we leave things as they are, we will soon face an epidemic. In fact, by 2015, it is estimated that road crashes will be the number one killer of children aged 5 to 14 in Africa, outstripping Malaria and HIV and AIDS.
As South Africans, we must voluntarily change our behaviour on the roads. We cannot be a developed country with this sort of carnage on our roads. We must win this battle against road deaths. Together, we can win this battle against road deaths.
Issued by: Department of Transport
26 January 2010
Issued by: Department of Transport
26 Jan 2010
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