12 May 2011
South Africa has joined the United Nations’ Decade of Action for Road Safety campaign, launched worldwide on Wednesday, with Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele saying the country would use the campaign to ensure that road safety became everyone’s business.
The campaign, supported by governments, international agencies, civil society organisations and private companies from more than 100 countries, aims to save at least 5-million lives on roads around the world over the next 10 years.
Speaking in Pretoria at the South Africa launch of the campaign, Ndebele said the government would work with various stakeholders to ensure that the message was spread everywhere – from mosques, temples, churches, schools and businesses – to ensure that everyone was on board in creating safer roads for South Africans.
Ndebele said his department had already embarked on large-scale mobilisation of communities through Community Road Safety Councils.
Council members include traditional leaders, religious leaders, the private sector, schools, government departments as well as civil society. These councils should always be inclusive, he said.
“Road Safety is not what you do to a community; road safety is what you do with a community. Therefore, community-driven road safety through Community Road Safety Councils must become the primary driving force of this Decade of Action in South Africa.”
Ndebele said the government wanted to empower communities to become self-liberating through Road Safety Councils.
“Every road safety issue in a community, whether a faulty robot or a pothole in Boksburg, Soweto or Nongoma, must be the business of the Road Safety Council. Members of the community must know their Road Safety Council, which should be their first point of call regarding any road safety matter.”
Ndebele said the government’s response to road deaths in the country included safety education taught at schools, plans to ensure the speeding up of the issuing of driving licences, and a planned driving school summit that would ensure that schools were better empowered to produce trained drivers.
Ndebele said the government’s road safety plan, introduced last October, to stop and check one-million vehicles every month, had seen about 34 000 unroadworthy vehicles being impounded in the past six months.
About 3.5-million fines had been issued for various traffic offences, 13 877 drunk drivers arrested, and almost 9-million vehicles stopped at roadblocks.
“As of May 2011, no less than 10 000 drivers will be screened every month for drinking and driving.”
Other plans include the national roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and the points demerit system. A draft amendment of the Aarto regulations was published for comment in the Government Gazette on 15 April.