South Africa: MEC Donald Grant – Launch of 2016-17 Western Cape Festive Season Traffic Operational Plan

I should like to begin by extending a sincere word of thanks to all of you for being here today. Your continued partnership with and support of our road safety activities and initiatives remains crucial to their success, and are a testament to the commitment we all share to improving safety on our roads during this special time of the year.

As many wind down the year, we enter into one of our really busy times, trying our best to make our roads safer for the thousands that will be using them over this holiday season. This time of year has become synonymous with increased traffic volumes which bring with them a higher incident and death rate. Our most urgent task is to do all we can to lessen the carnage that is caused each year by reckless and irresponsible behaviour on our roads. We must continue to encourage and promote safe and responsible road use as an imperative, and create a citizenry of law-abiders who exercise caution and care when taking to the roads – citizens that know that their conduct has a direct impact on the lives of others, and that their positive and safe actions keep others alive.

We remain painfully aware of the lives that are lost on our roads at this time of year, year-on-year. People have had their lives cut unnecessarily short, often through their own actions, or through the actions of others. We remember the 258 lives lost over the past festive season (1 December 2015 till 31 January 2016), each life representing lost potential, and an unimaginable pain for their loved ones. What is supposed to be a time of joy is too often marred by reckless behaviour and peaking fatalities.

Since we launched our Safely Home initiative back in 2009, great strides have been made not only to make our roads safer, but also to save more lives. Although the number of deaths over the holiday season remains far too high, we continue to see progress through our various initiatives which shows that we continue to move in the right direction in our fight against road carnage and in making our roads safer for all who use them.

We know that the cost of road deaths, both human and economic, demands our urgent intervention. The road death pandemic has reached alarming levels. Road injuries and death, in this province alone, cost the Western Cape economy an estimated R21 billion, with an even more staggering R143 billion cost to South Africa alone (according to a study conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the RTMC for 2015), due to the loss of some 17 000 people annually on our roads. The continued loss of life on our roads robs this country of resources that could be directed at improving the delivery of essential services to many that need it.

#BoozeFreeRoads alcohol and roads don’t mix

No road safety initiative can succeed, particularly over the festive season, without focussed drinking and driving (as well as drinking and walking) interventions forming the basis of the campaign. Alcohol and road use simply don’t mix, as is evidenced by the significant role that alcohol continues to play in a majority of crashes that we see on our roads. The consumption of alcohol, even in relatively small amounts, increases the risk of being involved in a crash for motorists and pedestrians. Not only does alcohol impair processes critical to safe road use, such as vision and reaction time, it is also associated with poor judgement and so is often linked to other high-risk road use behaviours such as speeding or not using seat-belts.

Our roads safety initiative, Safely Home, has recently launched the “Ubuthakathi” campaign which is part of our “Alcohol and Roads Don’t Mix” theme, focussing on pedestrians that are under the influence. Statistics have shown that more than 600 pedestrians are killed on Western Cape roads every year. This is 50 per month or about 11 per week. They represent 49% of the total fatalities, per the most recent figures for 2016. Most of these pedestrians are killed on weekend nights and are under the influence of alcohol (61% where Blood Alcohol Content is known). Too often the driver who hits them is too.

Through this campaign, we hope to achieve the same levels of awareness and behavioural change as we have with our successful and award-winning “First Kiss” campaign, which will mean fewer lives lost senselessly on our roads.

The advertisement is already garnering critical acclaim, having last week been selected by www.adforum.com as one of the TOP 5 best ads and advertising campaigns of the week worldwide, with more accolades likely to follow.

The campaign is currently live on the Safely Home website, www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za, twitter: @WCGovSafelyHome hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, and is supported by radio advertisements on various leading radio stations, and VMS message board messages on busy highways. #BoozeFreeRoads was specifically targeted at both motorists and pedestrians, with drinking and driving, as well as drinking and walking as both are proving to be a deadly combination on our roads.

The Western Cape Government has made every effort to ensure safe roads over the festive season. Despite resource constraints, our Provincial traffic officers remain the only traffic service to operate a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year traffic enforcement service. This will be intensified over the upcoming festive season. There will be more round-the-clock enforcement operations over this festive season focussed on:

Driving under the influence of alcohol

Excessive speed

Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD)

Driver Fatigue management, carried out later in the night when most fatigue-related crashes occur.

Driver/vehicle fitness

Distracted driving

Public transport

Pedestrian safety

Seatbelt compliance

Inter provincial operations

Licencing plates

Safe following distances

Transportation of illegal substances/elicit cigarettes

Just this morning, I joined the public transport vehicle inspections at Joe Gqabi Transport Interchange in Philippi East. These inspections form part of the “Public Transport Sticker Project”, which is a joint venture between the City of Cape Town, and the Department of Transport and Public Works, and is carried out during the busy “Exodus” periods of the year (Easter and Festive Season) when many public transport vehicles will be transporting passengers to their various holiday destinations.

During last year’s operation, a total of 2780 public transport vehicles were checked from 10 December 2015 to 24 December 2015. Of the checked vehicles, 1596 (57%) passed the inspections; with 1184 (43%) failing. 87 of those vehicles were impounded during the checks.

The checks seek to ensure that on public transport vehicles:

Lights, indicators and tyres are in proper working order. No parts of the tyres may be smooth, including the spare tyre.

Brakes and shock absorbers must be in good condition and replaced in good time.

Seatbelts must be in good working condition, and vehicles transporting children must have age-appropriate child seats and restraints.

Motorists must also exercise extreme caution when travelling on the roads this festive season, particularly at previously identified hotspots for incidents and crashes, namely; the R27 West Coast; the N1, N2, N7; as well as the R300. Enforcement activities will also be focussed on these locations.

Positive actions by all road users will continue to be the difference between life and death. In this regard, motorists themselves must carry the bulk of the burden, and are urged:

Not to speed

Not to drink and drive

To be extra mindful of pedestrians (who make up close to half of all the fatalities in the province)

Not to use cellphones while driving

To ensure that they buckle up, and most importantly that children in the vehicle are buckled up

I should like to take this opportunity to extend a word of thanks to our partners in the SAPS, Municipal traffic authorities and the Metro Police, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town, Emergency Medical Services, the PRE, Disaster Management, SARS, the NPA, SANRAL, the RTMC, and SANTACO. Without your valued partnership and shared commitment, very little could be achieved in this very important endeavour. We truly are Better Together, and our collective efforts will continue to save lives on our roads.

Source: Western Cape Transport and Public Works

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