_: The Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Bill has been published in the Provincial gazette and is open for public comment till the 20 September 2012. I also encourage members of the public to make written submissions of their proposed regulations to the Department of Transport and Public Works.
The Act, in terms of section 8, gives the Minister the power to make regulations governing road safety matters, a critical weapon in the ongoing battle against the carnage on the roads.
Section 8 (1) reads, “the Minister may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act or the National Road Traffic Act, in respect of:
(b) any restrictions in respect of the use of lamps emitting a blue light or of sirens on vehicles operated by any person;
(c) the rights and duties of persons using pedal cycles on public roads and the duties of drivers of vehicles to ensure the safety of persons using pedal cycles….”
Regulations already being drafted include:
The banning of the use of blue lights by VIP transport in the province, unless in the case of a confirmed threat to the life of the VIP. Blue light convoys of dubious purpose have been repeatedly involved in road trauma incidents throughout the country, and this will no longer be tolerated.
The introduction of 1.5M passing law for bicycles. As cycling, which is already an extremely popular sport in our province, develops into a fully-fledged transport mode, we will take increasing steps to protect bicycle users.
Other regulations being considered:
1. Protecting Children
Child restraints regulations that would ban shared seating and mandate the use of seatbelts, rear and forward facing child seats, and booster seats, as appropriate to age. Harsh penalties for non-compliance would be applied.
Introducing an additional offence for reckless behaviour with children in the vehicle, such as speeding, drunk driving or cellphone use. The penalties for this offence would increase exponentially should the child not be correctly restrained.
Banning overtaking of stopped school buses and scholar transport vehicles, which will concurrently be marked with additional chevrons and a stop sign.
Children bear much of the brunt of the slaughter on the roads, with hundreds killed senselessly per annum, and legislation can play a strong role in protecting them.
Worldwide, massive gains have been made through the introduction of compulsory seatbelts. In South Africa, we have a major enforcement issue, which the upcoming provincial road safety strategy will address. To strengthen our arm in this regard, we are considering the introduction of personal fines for passengers not wearing seatbelts.
Countless studies show the benefits in terms of preventing loss of life and serious injury by reducing speed limits. Every argument against speed limit reduction has been debunked by every practical implementation of lower speed limits backed up with public education and proper enforcement. The benefits of lower fuel use to the road user and to the environment are fantastic but pale into comparison when compared to the hundreds of lives that will be saved. We are therefore considering the reduction of speed limits throughout the province by 10kmh, e.g. 120kmh becomes 110kmh, and 80kmh becomes 70kmh.
In addition, we are considering mandatory 40kmh and 30kmh zones for shops, schools and areas of high pedestrian concentration.
The unnecessary carnage on our roads is an issue that affects us all with no exception. The distinction between driver, passenger or pedestrian therefore becomes non-existent as we all bear a shared responsibility to ourselves and others.
The public is encouraged to submit their written comments on the Bill, in writing, on or before the 20th of September 2012, and also to propose other regulations in writing that they wish to have considered, to the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works.