Easter road death ‘decline’ no cause for celebration – JPSA

JOHANNESBURG – While it is encouraging to note that this year’s Easter road death toll is down on 2015, it is important to note the Minister of Transport’s opening statements made with respect to the somewhat unique situation that prevailed this year.

The fact that last week only comprised of three days with Human Rights Day falling on the 21st and Good Friday falling on the 25th of this month, coupled with the school holidays coinciding with these public holidays would naturally mean that traffic concentrations would have been significantly lower than they would ordinarily be over an Easter long-weekend.

In addition, the fact that this Easter fell before the month-end on which many people receive their salaries would have also have had an influence.

Without detracting from the efforts made by dedicated law enforcement officials who were out in force over the Easter period, we remind the public that the Human Rights Day long-weekend saw terrible carnage on our roads.

A seeming 46% reduction in road fatalities from 286 last year to 156 this Easter is no cause for celebration and it is most certainly no reason for motorists to let their guard down. Defensive driving is key to assuring one’s own and family’s safety on our roads.

JPSA also acknowledges the efforts of the RTMC’s anti-corruption unit in arresting two corrupt traffic officers over the Easter weekend. Eradicating corruption in both, law enforcement and vehicle and driver testing stations must be regarded as a priority since without a concerted effort in tackling corruption – every other road safety strategy will achieve very little.

The arrest of 913 motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol and 502 for excessive speeding is cause for concern, particularly in light of the fact that convictions for DUI offences are and remain extremely low. It is simply astounding that these people seem to have little or no regard for their own self-preservation, let alone the lives and well-being of other road users. The sooner that our authorities and government laboratories get their acts together and start convicting those charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs), the sooner a message will be sent that it is not alright to drive drunk.

The notion of denying persons charged with these crimes bail is simply outrageous and is going to open up the floodgates for civil damages claims when people are acquitted or charges are withdrawn. JPSA encourages the Minister to drop the ridiculous notion of imposing punishment on persons charged with crimes ahead of their conviction and implores her to pay attention to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa she has sworn to uphold.