How Can We Make SA’s Roads Safer? - Business Media MAGS

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How Can We Make SA’s Roads Safer?

Road traffic accidents are on the rise. What needs to be done to improve road safety? Simon Foulds reports.

As South Africa’s accident rate spirals out of control, the question remains: should more laws be implemented to make roads safer, or is it a case of simply providing better training for law enforcement officers and introducing more punitive measures for drivers?

“South African drivers do not always give road safety the priority that they should. A culture of breaking road laws and driving recklessly has developed among road users,” says Eugene Herbert, managing director at Masterdrive.

“Everyone needs to commit to improving road safety,” he adds. “Government must ensure that road regulation is enforced and penalties are given, while businesses should ensure that all their employees are properly trained and follow a culture of road safety. Lastly, the individual needs to do their part by ensuring that they are competent, courteous and respectful of road regulations.

“Law enforcement training differs between various law enforcement agencies, causing possible problems when enforcing the law. However, all road violations should be taken seriously. Every road regulation transgression can result in tragedy and should never be underestimated.

“There is always room for improvement. Ideally, regular refresher training should be undertaken.”

A fully trained driver is equipped to handle everything South African roads and road-users can throw at them, says Herbert. They avoid reckless behaviour, identify potentially dangerous situations and can react timeously and appropriately when an obstacle or situation becomes dangerous on the road.

Will AARTO’s new demerit system improve road safety?

The latest draft regulations outlining AARTO’s new demerit system were published for comment during the last week of September.

The Road Freight Association’s (RFA) chief executive Gavin Kelly says that the RFA has always supported better road safety for all road users. He adds that the association has commented regularly on the proposed implementation of AARTO. The RFA has made several suggestions relating to a simpler, effective, safety-focused and more manageable implementation of a demerit point system and the related objectives of the proposed AARTO approach to better road safety.

“We do not support a system predicated on revenue generation,” says Kelly. “We further reject a system that is – in nature – designed to make compliance costly, complicated, onerous to obey and a real threat to business sustainability. Similar licence demerit point schemes around the world are aimed at changing bad behaviour. We are not convinced that – following the recent regulation amendments and proposals during 2019 – that this is the true intent of the AARTO approach.”

Earlier this year, the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula was very quick to note the huge successes during the 2019 festive season road safety state of affairs. This initiative targeting road safety and traffic policing was implemented without any AARTO system being in place. Therefore, no huge costs were incurred by citizens to fund tribunals, demerit point and notice administration systems and there was no convoluted redirection (and refusal thereof) of notices.

“New draft regulations have just been published for public comment. Once our members have had a chance to review these, we will be in a position to confirm whether the minister has taken cognisance of what we have raised, the workable solutions we have forwarded, and addressed the concerns around revenue generation and improving the state of road safety. We will be voicing our stance and position regarding the new proposals as required by the latest call for public comment in due course,” Kelly concludes.

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