The Department of Transport, in collaboration with the Minister of Transport, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and the Swedish Embassy, made a presentation to the Committee on ways to reduce road fatalities, and to provide clarification on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) -- especially on the billing of the e-tolling system.
The RTMC focused on changing driver behavioural patterns, introducing road safety education to the people, inculcating responsible driving on the roads and also mobilising and coordinating a public and private partnership. The presentation gave a clear indication of the road safety interventions, including the licensing provision for taverns to be reviewed, and strict monitoring of the school scholar transport policy. The RTMC also stressed the importance of implementation, collaboration with different stakeholders, and financial allocations to ensure the ultimate success of road safety programmes in reducing road fatalities.
The Minister of Transport encouraged every road user living in Gauteng to register for e-tolling, especially Members of Parliament, because as lawmakers they needed to set an example for the public. The Minister focused on numerous challenges in the Department. These included the outdated eNatis system and incorrect billing of the e-tolling system. She acknowledged problems of accuracy in the figures of road fatalities, and indicated that although it was important to consult mortuaries to collect accurate figures, it was also to important to use the Department of Home Affairs, as this would ensure the most reliable information would be available. The Minister indicated that there were interventions in place to reduce the scourge of road fatalities on our roads, and these included renewed focus on safer roads, targeting identified and known hazardous routes in all the provinces. There was a continuous focus on the “Triple E” -- Education, Engineering and Enforcement – and the introduction of technology to monitor driver fatigue.
SANRAL focused on number of issues, including the operational commencement of the GFIP and general clarification on the billing system of the e-Toll. They were pleased that as at 3 December 2013, over 500 000 vehicles were newly registered on e-toll accounts. Challenges that were encountered on the e-tolling system included inaccuracy of e-Natis information, duplication of number plates, illegal vehicles, and also erratic communication with the website, causing slowness of operations. There were several interventions that were put in place to deal with the challenges of e-tolling. These included an education campaign to educate the public, and investigating options to improve a vehicle owner’s ability to check online if details on e-Natis were correctly captured.
The Swedish Embassy made a presentation on the interventions introduced by the Swedish government to reduce road fatalities. These were mainly guided by “Vision Zero.” The Embassy emphasised strongly on the need to inculcate a culture of responsible driving at an early age, saying this could be achieved through rigorous road safety programmes aimed at reducing road crashes and fatalities. Vision Zero also mentioned that road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimise both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occurred.
The Members raised concerns over the e-Natis system, and indicated that they were concerned about poorly maintained scholar transport, especially in rural areas, as they had contributed to tragic accidents involving learners. Members were also concerned about the inaccuracy in the figures of road fatalities, as well as incorrect e-Toll billings. All the Members agreed that it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure safety of all road users and pedestrians.
Opening remarks by Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologized for the late start to the meeting due to the non-functioning of the air conditioner, which had made conditions in the Committee room almost impossible to hold the meeting. The Committee had invited the Road Traffic Management Corporate (RTMC) and South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) to focus on the billing of e-Tolls for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). The Committee had attended a workshop last year where the Swedish Embassy had made a presentation on their road safety model, and the Chairperson had decided it was important for them to come to the Committee to share their experience of how to reduce road fatalities. The Minister had indicated that she would be leaving early to make a presentation at another meeting. There were apologies from the Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, Ms N Ngele (ANC), who had undergone an operation, and Ms N Mdaka (ANC).
Presentation by the Minister of Transport
Minister Dipou Peters welcomed everyone and said she appreciated the opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee, and also wanted to acknowledge the ambassador and the representative of the Swedish Embassy. She was honoured to be with the Chairperson and CEOs of both SANRAL and the RTMC. The Minister admitted that there were numerous challenges that were faced by SANRAL with regard to billing of the GFIP, and also extended her apology that she had to depart early to another meeting.
Road safety was a priority of the government, especially since about 40 people die on our roads daily. The Department of Transport (DoT) recorded 1 376 road fatalities over the festive period, and these road accidents were due to reckless, irresponsible and disrespectful human conduct. The main causes for road crashes include, but are not limited to, drunken driving, speeding, reckless overtaking, driver fatigue from long and uninterrupted driving, failure to use seatbelts and other restraints, especially for children, unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed and illegally licensed drivers. Pedestrians accounted for about 45% of road fatalities, and this reality encouraged all South Africans to work together on road safety.
A number of interventions had been made to reduce road fatalities. In October 2013, the Department convened a national summit on road safety, which resolved to implement a set of key interventions within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety. The Department agreed on a number of practical actions, based primarily on the five pillars of the Decade of Action campaign. On road safety management, a review of the service and employment conditions of the law enforcement officers and road safety practitioners will be done.
Minister Peters stressed that the approximately 17 000 law enforcement officers in our country were not enough to police about 750 000 km of South Africa’s national road network. These law enforcement officers also had to monitor about 10 million vehicles on South African roads. The DoT planned to have a renewed focus on safer roads and mobility, targeting identified and known hazardous routes in all provinces, for continuous focus on what was commonly known as the “Triple E” -- Education, Engineering and Enforcement. Education and awareness campaigns will be compulsory projects at each province and partnership with Department of Basic and Higher education had already been achieved. Scholar patrols were a daily occurrence, and through working with the Department of Basic Education, the DoT was introducing basic road safety as a part of Life Orientation, as well as understanding how to manage a vehicle.
The DoT had also introduced technology to monitor driver fatigue, like Periodic Rest. Regulation for truck driver rest and child restraints were in place already, and there was a need to set minimum standards for vehicle fitness, especially scholar transport. Scholar transport was a huge problem, especially in rural areas, as children were often transported in the most unroadworthy vehicles. The Department was also concerned about how scholar transport operators accessed contracts to transport learners. The RTMC had already identified unroadworthy vehicles transporting learners and was working on a solution, in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, to ensure the safety of learners. The DoT also noted that parents actually paid a fare for these unroadworthy vehicles, especially those parents who send their children to schools in the suburbs.
Periodic vehicle testing was to be made compulsory, as this would reduce fraud and corruption. There was also a need to ensure safer road use, in particular with regard to pedestrians, and the focus here will be on pedestrian infrastructure such as overhead bridges, sidewalks and other relevant interventions. The DoT will also elevate the law enforcement function to essential civil status. The Road Accident Fund (RAF) will continue to work towards being directly accessible for crash victims and also intensify assistance to post-crash care. The Minister commended RAF for their work in ensuring that they were accessible to members of the community without having to go through lawyers. The Department had also strengthened the internal capacity and brought stability at the RTMC so as to enable the entity to efficiently manage issues related to traffic, including road safety.
Minister Peters emphasised that there had been renewed interest in focussing on organs of society, who continue to play a meaningful and complementary role to the efforts of government. She promised to announce the outcome of the engagement with religious fraternities in order to formulate a new partnership to elevate the campaign to become a daily concern for each and every South African. As for the resolution of the summit, the DoT will be announcing members of the Ministerial Road Safety Advisory Council, which will consist of experts in road safety from the Road Safety Council, non-governmental organisations, and taxi and bus associations. This was to ensure that the Department could reduce the number of road fatalities by its target of 50% by the year 2020.
In response to the identified challenges and road safety data management and statistics, the Department had engaged with research bodies in government to explore innovative means of establishing a reliable and credible statistical data bank for road related incidents. The DoT also had a big challenge during January this year in announcing road fatalities as well as the number of accidents, because the Department relied on the police and at times there was a delay between the time of receiving information and the time of releasing the information. It was critically important for South Africans to be informed and given a true picture of the number of people who died or were injured in our roads daily. They also needed to be informed of the main causes of road fatalities, and the Department was working closely with CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) and Statistics SA in order to get accurate numbers that will reflect the reality.
The Minister indicated that SANRAL manages a national road network of 19 704km, and of this, a total of 3 120km are tolled. This comprised 1 832km being SANRAL-controlled toll roads, and 1 288km were concession toll roads. The remaining 16 584km of national roads were non-tolled roads. This represented 84% of total tarred roads, which SANRAL was mandated to maintain with funds from the national fiscus, and also by raising additional funds through the user-pay principle -- a key financing principle contained in the National Development Plan (NDP). The operation of the tolling system in Gauteng started on 3 December 2013, and more than 500 000 vehicles were newly registered on e-Toll’s account. The Minister admitted that glitches had been experienced in the billing system of the e-Toll, with complaints of incorrect billing. She had also sent her special apology to Gauteng road users who had been inconvenienced by these challenges. The operational commencement of the system had had an immediate impact on almost 2.5 million monthly users, and had also coincided with the festive season. Although the toll system in itself was operating correctly, both SANRAL and the Department were well aware of the challenges, and the Minister assured the general public that these problems will be resolved so that people who use GFIP receive correct itemised and easy to understand invoices. In essence, the Minister emphasised that there was a need for a correct billing system and also consumer education and information be clear. Those motorists without e-mail and internet had been the most affected, and there was therefore a need to reach to those who had no access to the internet.
The Minister indicated that she was pleased with the response from the general public, which had been demonstrated by an increase in the uptake of the e-tag and their willingness to contribute to the expansion of the country’s road infrastructure. Some of the areas of concern had been identified, like the eNatis system. The e-Tolling system has managed to identify some problems, like people driving with old number plates, and the cloning of number plates. The problem was twofold, in the sense that users had not updated their information on the eNatis system within the prescribed period, and the updated information had not always been correctly captured. The Department had already, in 2012, advertised regulations to address this issue. SANRAL and their contractors, Information Transaction Control (ITC), were implementing various interventions to improve customer service in order to address customer needs. These include the escalation of enquiries and complaints to senior personnel, and channels to respond to consumers. Finally, the Minister urged all road users in Gauteng, including the Committee Members, to register for e-Toll.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her presentation and asked the Committee Members to pose questions that were directly related to her presentation.
Mr I Ollis (DA) questioned the accuracy of the figures released in January on road fatalities, and suggested that since these police figures were inaccurate it was important that the Department collected figures directly from the morgues and forensic mortuaries, like in the Western Cape. He questioned the logic behind the revitalisation of the RTMC, especially when the board had voted anonymously that it could not fulfil its mandate. It needed to either change its mandate or shut down completely. The problems of the billing system and the cloning of number plates were identified in the initial stages of the E-toll system, and were mainly due to the corrupt Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System (eNatis) database, as 60% of the data was reportedly incorrect. He asked why it took very long for the Department to fix the problem of a corrupt eNatis database.
Minister Peters responded that the Department had acknowledged the problem of inaccuracy in the figures of road fatalities, and indicated that although it was important to consult mortuaries to collect accurate figures, it was also to important to use Home Affairs, as this will ensure the most reliable information will be available. The main challenge faced by the transport fraternity was the period of waiting for the reliable data. Statistics SA had advised it needed to have more time in order to release the most accurate figures. She denied that there had been a board meeting to close down RTMC -- only shareholder committee members had wanted it to be closed down. However, on 7 August 2013, the DoT had rescinded that decision, as the RTMC was playing a crucial role in dealing with issues related to the Road Traffic Law Enforcement Programme, and road safety programmes. She once again emphasised that the Department acknowledged the problems around eNaTIS system and appealed to the Committee to give the agencies and the Department an opportunity to fix the problems so as to better serve the people of South Africa.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) saidd that every political party was concerned at the increase in road fatalities, especially around Easter and the festive season, and questioned whether the Department was aware of the success of the “Safely Home” programmes in the Western Cape, where they had managed to reduce road fatalities by 29% since 2009. He wanted to know whether the Department was planning to emulate the success of these programmes in the Western Cape in other provinces, to reduce road carnage.
Ms R Motsepe (ANC) urged the Minister to focus more on improving scholar transport, especially in rural areas. She also asked the Minister to also focus on the Moloto Corridor, as it was infamous over the years as one of the most deadly roads in South Africa.
Ms Peters responded that the issue of scholar transport was an indictment to women, and the DoT was working together with the Department of Education in order to ensure that the scholar transport operators were motivated and given awards for being “the scholar transport driver of the year.” The Department also needed to ensure that scholar transport drivers were properly trained, and given modern technology to monitor the speed and roadworthiness of their vehicles.
She said that on 18 December 2013, the Political Oversight Committee of the Moloto Road Development Corridor had met and agreed on the rail option as part of a package to reduce road fatalities. The DoT had written a letter to SANRAL to be a partner in road development in Moloto, and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) will deal with the rail site. A Project Management Unit will be established within PRASA to deal with Moloto Road.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her responses, and indicated that the questions that were asked by the Committee Members were the same questions that had been asked in previous Committee meetings. She said that the RTMC indeed had a huge responsibility in the management of traffic in this country. The issue of cloning of number plates was a major concern, as it also contributed to road fatalities.
Mr Ollis said he was unhappy that the time to interrogate the Minister fully was so short, as it was unfair to attack the entities, as they acted on instructions. He suggested the need for a follow up meeting with the Minster, specifically to ask political questions that could be answered only by her.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would definitely find time to have a follow up meeting, as these were important issues. She also agreed with the Minister that the statistics from the Department of Home Affairs were the most accurate, as this was where births and deaths were registered.
The Chairperson raised concern to the technical support staff about constant inconveniences in the Portfolio Committee. When the some of the Committee Members had raised the issue at the last Committee meeting, some DA Members felt like it was a minor issue. She expressed her disappointment at Mr Krumbock for asking to be excused from the meeting, as he said the room was extremely hot for him. She complained that she had had to shout in order to get the agenda before the start of the meeting, and the Committee room was not in a conducive environment to run a meeting. The Chairperson hoped the issue would be resolved. She asked the RTMC to make their presentation.
Presentation by RTMC
Adv Makhosini Msibi, CEO of RTMC, indicated that road safety was everybody’s responsibility and therefore there was a need to work together to reduce fatalities on our roads. There was also a need to change driver behaviour patterns, and this could be done by inculcating the culture of responsible behaviour on the roads and also by mobilising and coordinating a public and private partnership. The RTMC was also guided by UN Decade of Action, which planned to halt the predicted increase in road traffic fatalities around the world and aimed to save about five million lives by 2020.
RTMC had adopted the five pillars of road safety, which included road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash response. There were 10 332 696 recorded vehicles on our roads, and Gauteng had the largest number of people with vehicles (4 015 348), followed by KZN (1 399 385) and the Western Cape (1 659 067). There were 3 428 747 female drivers and 6 382 348 male drivers. Of concern was the fact that when you add the number licensed male and female drivers, the grand total was 9 811 095 licensed drivers, meaning about 300 000 vehicles on our roads were not licensed. There was also an emphasis on the need to deal with the busiest corridors, as this would give an indication of the high traffic volumes experienced on major arterial routes, both inter-provincially as well as cross-border traffic.
Adv Msibi also said that the quality of accident statistics was inaccurate, especially the quality of data recording at a crash scene. The police also contributed to the distortion of the data, as they will open one docket, for instance, for 12 victims of a fatal crash. There was also the delayed capturing of road crash data, and no co-ordination of data-capturing systems, as provinces were using different systems.
There were13 875 fatalities in 2008, and an increase of 1.45% was recorded between 2009 and 2010. A decrease of 0.1% was recorded between 2010 and 2011. In terms of road user fatalities, the percentage for drivers had been around 30% for the past three years, with the exception of 2010, while the figure for passengers was between 34% and 35% for 2009 and 2011.
The Chairperson interrupted Adv Msibi, and mentioned that a room with an air conditioner had been obtained, and asked if the Committee Members were opposed to moving.
Mr L Suka (ANC) first apologised for arriving late and said since the Committee room was not conducive to Members’ comfort, he could not see a reason for objecting to such a suggestion.
The Chairperson politely asked the Members to move to the Chamber building.
Adv Msibi continued, and mentioned that it was clear that most of the crashes with fatalities took place during the Easter period (April). The age group of 0-14 (54%) was hugely affected by road fatalities, and these were not drivers, but children and passengers. It was also a surprise that the percentage of fatalities for the age group of 65+ (38.9%) was extremely high. Head-on collisions were mentioned as resulting in fatal crashes, and this was mainly a matter of human conduct, as people were overtaking over barrier lines. The total cost of crashes to the South African economy were estimated to be about R307 billion per annum. The road fatalities per month were highest in December, and this had been the same pattern throughout the years. It was interesting that although Gauteng had the most registered vehicles, most of the fatal crashes occurred in KwaZulu-Natal (2 139), followed by Gauteng (1 059), Limpopo (755) and Western Cape (856). This was mainly because KZN and the WC were tourist destinations during the holidays, and Limpopo is a gateway for other countries outside of South Africa.
The percentage vehicle population per motorised category clearly showed that motor cars contributed about 65% to fatal crashes, while minibuses contributed only 3%. The Leyland Daf Vans (LDV’s) were also a huge concern for the Department and RTMC, as they contributed about 23% to road fatalities and these vehicles were mostly used to transport children to school in rural areas. The fact that minibuses contributed only 3% to road fatalities dispelled the public perception of they were the most vehicles involved in crashes.
It was a concern that there were still vehicles that were 30 years old on our roads, and this required constant and rigorous testing for roadworthiness. Contributory factors to road fatalities included tyres bursting before a crash, and this indicated that most of the tyres in our country were not compliant, and there was poor vehicle maintenance. It was also clear that fatal crashes were likely to occur during the time ranging from 19:00-21:00, and also during sunrise 06:00-08:00. Friday, Saturday and Sunday recorded the most fatal crashes per day of the week, and this was mainly due to the fact that most of the people were off from work.
The leading factors in fatal crashes were divided into three categories – the human factor, vehicles and road and environment. The human factor included speeding, pedestrian jaywalking, and hit-and run and reckless driving. The vehicle included numerous issues, but mostly tyres bursting, brakes and steering faulty and poor maintenance. The road and environment included, but was not limited to, sharp bends, poor condition of the road surface, poor visibility and wet roads.
The RTMC had managed to devise road safety interventions. These included licensing provisions for taverns to be reviewed, as most of the taverns in urban areas were situated close to main roads. There was also a need to deal with the issue of taverns situated close to areas of learning. The issue of a school scholar transport policy also needed to be reviewed, despite criticism for closing down businesses of people, as safety should remain the priority for learners, especially those located in rural areas. The RTMC also planned to deal with the issue of a “Black Box” vehicle movement recorder, as this could easily pick up moving violations. The number of people taking drugs on our roads was alarming, and there was a need to deal with testing of drugs on our roads. It was critically important to expose students at an early age to road safety programmes and activities, and this could be achieved through acceleration of a partnership with the Department of Education. The purpose of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan was to co-ordinate road traffic enforcement across the three tiers of government with a view to effective and efficient traffic operations. There was also a need to deal with the issue of non-functionality of weighbridges, as this usually leads to overloading, especially in provinces like Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
Adv Msibi said it was important to reintroduce a national school debates competition focusing on road safety, as this will encourage learners to be aware and take responsibility for road safety issues within their environment. This will also develop, enhance and empower learners with practical research, communications and presentation skills. The RTMC also planned to introduce Junior Training Traffic Centres. The aim of this is to educate young road users on road safety through the use of a simulated road environment. This can potentially lead to quicker understanding of the road environment because of the participatory nature of the programme. Furthermore, the RTMC also planned to deal decisively with the issue of corruption by National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit (NTACU), the purpose of which was to deal specifically with corrupt activities, bribery and corruption within the traffic policing fraternity in all sectors. The Provisional Deployment of National Traffic Police was formed to be an intervention unit, to assist provincial and local authorities with law enforcement in hazardous locations (e.g. Moloto Corridor), and the aim of deployment was to reduce accidents and fatalities in identified hazardous locations in those provinces. He finally reminded the Committee Members that it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure road safety.
The Chairperson indicated that the questions for RTMC will follow after the presentations by SANRAL and the Swedish Embassy.
Presentation by SANRAL
Mr Nazir Alli, CEO of SANRAL, welcomed everyone to the Committee meeting and also thanked the Swedish Embassy for their presence. Since the operations of the e-tolling system in Gauteng commenced on 3 December 2013, there were over 500 000 vehicles that were newly registered. The system had had an immediate impact on approximately 2.5 million monthly users. SANRAL admitted that there were problems with the billing system. The IT system of recording vehicles passing gantries and the associated transaction, identifying vehicles, was working. Despite the identified challenges, the toll system was stable, as it handled large volumes. SANRAL had noticed that a high number of customers preferred direct interface, and about 75% had registered at points of presence, including at kiosks and customer service centres. Mr Alli emphasised that most of the complaints about the system’s operation came from non-registered users, and paying customers were forwarded an invoice and detailed transaction record via the post. SMS’s were sent to inform users as soon as possible about outstanding debt and to allow qualification for applicable discounts. Inaccurate or outdated data on eNatis system had caused some people to receive incorrect SMS’s.
Mr Alli was pleased with the fact that over 100 000 users had so far registered an e-toll account via the website, adding a total of over 157 000 newly-registered vehicles. However, some users were not happy with the fact that information was difficult to find, the slowness of web access, and wanted more clarity about some concepts. There were multiple payment channels available, and these included automated payment via linked credit card or debit orders, manual payment via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), cash at customer service centres, and top-up at retailers (Shoprite, Checkers or PnP). Some of the users complained about Standard Bank delays between when certain payments, such as EFT, were made and when it was reflected. There was also a high number of incorrectly referenced payments. Some users required additional payment channels (over the counter or ATM). SANRAL had also identified that some users with larger fleets had specific needs, such as integrated detailed transaction records. There were users that complained about an incorrect understanding of the system, as tags cannot be moved between vehicles and also number plates should not be obscured. Fleet banks were integrated with the SANRAL toll system, but not all the clients were interested in working through fleet banks.
The monthly user population was about 2.6 million individual vehicles, and only 0.3% those drivers raised a complaint through different channels at Customer Service Centres, call centres and via the web. The bulk of the complaints were closed out within five days and out of all complaints received, over 85% were resolved by giving clarification. Mr Alli emphasised that there was a need for further customer education of how the e-Tolling system operated.
Mr Ollis (DA) interrupted and indicated that there would not be enough time for questioning all the entities that were present in the meeting. He suggested that the meeting needed to be reconvened in order to have an adequate amount of time to rigorously interrogate and question all the entities.
The Chairperson indicated that Mr Alli needed to focus specifically on the billing system, as this was the main concern for the Portfolio Committee.
Mr Alli stated that the toll system was a pay-as-you-go system and all road users had a seven-day grace period, from the first gantry pass, to pay their e-toll transaction. The registered e-toll account holders received their invoices in a 14-day cycle (depending on the day of registration), and the invoices were forwarded to their selected communication option (e-mail, SMS or post). If the e-toll transaction was not paid within seven days, it was transferred to the Violations Processing Centre (VPC), the section within the e-toll operations that dealt with overdue toll amounts. Discounts apply -- if a road user pays within 30 days of the date of the invoice, a 60% discount will apply, and if payment is within 60 days of the date of the invoice, a 30% discount will apply. However, if a road user was not registered and then registers at the time of payment, an additional once-off 6.67% discount will apply.
Mr Alli pointed out that there were legal limitations to the e-tolling system and these included the fact that legally the VPC invoice must be send to the address of the registered owner as registered on the eNatis database. Unfortunately, the changes of contact details or ownership were not always done timeously. Due to protection of privacy legislation, when inquiring through the web or at an e-toll Customer Service outlet or through the Call Centre, a security check was usually done by comparing the ID number and vehicle licence plate number with the eNatis database.
In this his closing remarks, Mr Alli indicated that the e-tolling system was a new system and in the event that problems were experienced, manpower was in place to manage these issues and improve where necessary. SANRAL has an overall network of 19 700km, and toll roads make up only 16% (3 120km), of which the GFIP comprises 201km. SANRAL was in thr process of providing infrastructure at existing toll plazas to accommodate the same e-tag technology at the plazas, as this will further enhance the services to e-tag customers, reducing delays at existing toll plazas. Finally, Mr Alli indicated that indeed there were numerous challenges experienced in the e-toll billing system and SANRAL was working extremely hard to meet these challenges. He suggested that the eNatis system needed to have an updated database.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Alli for his presentation and handed over to the Swedish Embassy to make their presentation. She also mentioned that due to a limited amount of time, there was indeed a need to find a suitable day to reconvene the Committee meeting.
Presentation by Swedish Embassy
Mr Anders Hagelberg, Swedish Ambassador, thanked the Chairperson for the invitation to make the presentation on ways Sweden had managed to reduce road fatalities. He indicated that South Africa had all the tools, including infrastructure, to deal with the scourge of road fatalities. Sweden managed to reduce the number of daily road fatalities from 150 to only five people -- a 97% reduction. It was critically important to focus not only on road safety programmes, but also on behavioural changes so as to inculcate a culture of driving safely. He handed over to his colleague Ms Sara Aulin, Counsellor at the Swedish Embassy, to go through the presentation.
Ms Aulin indicated that Sweden had introduced “Vision Zero,” representing a whole new way of viewing the problem concerning safety in road traffic. This included strategies that needed to be implemented to solve the problem of road fatalities. Vision Zero was composed of several basic elements, each of which affects safety in road traffic. These concerns ethics, human capability and tolerance, responsibility, scientific facts and a realisation that the different components in the road transport system interact and are interdependent. The Swedish government moved from the perception that it was primarily only a road user that was responsible for traffic safety, and this had shifted in the 1990s towards a common responsibility. The service providers, road users, pedestrians, and parliamentarians were all responsible for ensuring a traffic safety situation. It was shocking that the major cause of road fatalities in South Africa was head-on collisions, as this problem had been eliminated in Sweden. This was done by having two lanes, one going in each direction, and after every 2km the road users could overtake through an open space.
Ms Aulin indicated that road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimise both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur. Vision Zero also emphasised the need for roundabouts at intersections, particularly in populated areas, and although they were not a new phenomenon, since the introduction of Vision Zero their key role in road safety was highlighted, as roundabouts had a traffic calming effect. The consequences of a collision were less severe than in a normal intersection due to the different angles of impact and lower speeds. There was also an introduction of speed 30km/h speed limits in built-up areas. This speed limit was critically important to ensure that the pedestrians and cyclists survived a collision.
Road safety education needed to start at an early age in order to inculcate the culture of responsible driving. The work on designing the road transport system in line with Vision Zero was making a clear impression. Much had already been accomplished and road safety in Sweden had improved. But this was only the beginning, as there was still a lot that was left to be done.
The Chairperson thanked the Swedish Embassy for their presentation. The reduction of road fatalities needed strategies, interventions, and policies from different stakeholders, and could not just happen overnight. There was a need to involve community members in road safety programmes, as it was everyone’s responsibility to reduce road fatalities. There was a need to improve the reliability and safety of public transport in order to encourage motor car users to use public transport.
Mr Suka noted that it was interesting how Sweden had managed to reduce road fatalities. It was the best place for South Africa to learn about ways to reduce road crashes and fatalities.
Mr Alli wanted to know how the Swedish had managed to change peoples’ mindset and psychology to behave responsibly as road users.
Mr Hagelberg responded that this was a complex and complicated exercise, as it involved a combination of number of factors, but he emphasised that this started at an early age through road safety education, which also included parents exposing their children from a tender age to road safety education.
Ms Aulin also responded that it was important to introduce a rigorous education program at an early age as this will instil a culture of driving responsibly. She also said that society needed to stigmatise those who were not following road safety rules. Finally, she encouraged all the South Africans to work together in order to ensure that Vision Zero was also achieved.
The Chairperson said that the changing of a particular behaviour required one to target a particular age-group. There was a need to involve different stakeholders to fight the scourge of road fatalities, as there was a socio-economic costs involved. People needed to respect technologies, like the Black Box and traffic lights that were put in place to protect road users, and should also provide a rapid response in case of a hit-and run or fatal crashes.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee members for their attendance and once again mentioned that there was a need for a follow up meeting, as suggested by the Committee members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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