The marked decrease in the number of road deaths on the country’s roads over Easter is to be welcomed, but must be seen in the context of decreased traffic volumes on the country’s roads over this period. During a briefing, the transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, announced that 162 people died on the country’s roads in 134 fatal accidents.
Although the minister indicated this number was down from the 235 deaths recorded last year, official published statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) show that 270 people died on the country’s roads over the Easter period in 2021.
“The discrepancy in the numbers aside, fewer deaths on our roads are something we naturally welcome and it is encouraging. But the sharp decrease in traffic volumes, especially in KwaZulu-Natal because of the floods over this period, resulted in fewer deaths. Traffic law enforcement efforts during this time cannot be underestimated, but we urge the government to urgently implement the findings of the 2019 Traffic Law Enforcement Review Committee to double the number of traffic law enforcers to ensure these efforts are maintained every day of the year, and not only during peak traffic periods,” the AA said.
During his briefing, Mbalula announced that the current backlog of driving licences which need to be renewed stands at 1.3 million. He said the Department of Transport (DoT), “… has done everything to remove the obstacles that were an impediment in the renewal of driving licences. It is now up to the public to overcome their inertia and comply.”
“We acknowledge and credit the DoT and the RTMC for making strides in providing better services, at better times, to many motorists to renew their licences. Feedback from motorists who have used the RTMC’s driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) in Waterfall Park in Midrand, and Eco Park in Centurion, are that these outlets are efficient, professional, and user-friendly. However, this level of service cannot be restricted to only two centres in Gauteng and the standards there must be implemented at each DLTC throughout the country to ensure every motorist has access to similar high-quality interactions,” said the AA.
The association notes that problems at DLTCs and with online bookings remain unresolved in many areas and that motorists become frustrated with a constant struggle and eventually abandon efforts to renew their documents.
“We agree with the minister that motorists must take responsibility for renewing their licences but we disagree that ‘everything has been done to remove the obstacles’. Until every DLTC in South Africa operates at the same levels as the two flagship centres in Gauteng, we cannot accept that everything is being done to accommodate all motorists. Until this is the case, we continue to argue for an extension of the renewal deadline,” noted the AA.
Johannesburg speed cameras
News this morning that all the speed enforcement cameras (and handheld speed enforcement devices) in Johannesburg have been inoperative since May 31 last year is both shocking and distressing. The AA said an investigation must be launched immediately to determine who should be held accountable for this gross negligence, and that disciplinary steps against the individual or individuals involved should commence urgently.
“We live in a country with one of the highest per capita road deaths in the world. Effective traffic law enforcement (along with proper prosecution of offenders) remains critical to dealing effectively with this situation. While the fact that the speed cameras aren’t working is bad enough, this ridiculous turn of events sends a message that the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) is not taking traffic law enforcement seriously,” said the AA.
The AA notes that the contract for the supply of the cameras and the processing of the fines ended on May 31, last year.
“Surely someone in the JMPD must carry the responsibility to flag these deadlines well in advance of their expiry dates with a view to either renewing the contracts or securing new suppliers. Instead, that process is only getting under way now which may result in even further delays in getting cameras operational again. It’s a totally ludicrous situation and the JMPD should hang its collective head in shame,” concluded the AA.