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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 November 2002
ROAD TO SAFETY PROGRAMME; ARRIVE ALIVE CAMPAIGN: BRIEFING
Documents Handed Out:
Presentation on Arrive Alive Campaign
Briefing on Road to Safety Programme
Road to Safety 2001-2005 Strategy
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on the Road to Safety programme in view of the upcoming festive season. They focused on the progress made within the programme and its various subdivisions. Amongst the challenges highlighted were; fraudulent issuing of drivers licenses, unroadworthy vehicles, overloading of passenger vehicles as well as other closely related issues.
Mr L Mangcu, Mr Letebele and Mr Botha represented the Department.
Mr Mangcu conducted the presentation on the Road to Safety Campaign. The Department faces the challenge of combating fraud and corruption. Mechanisms to combat these malpractices formed part of the objectives of the programme. Several cases of fraudulent drivers licences in the Limpopo province were for instance investigated in the past year.
The second major focus is the computerised learners license test. The objective in this regard is to have a user-friendly test in all the eleven official languages. More importantly, this will help a great deal in combating corruption since no human intervention would be possible in this case. Challenges include increased test fees and secondly lack of co-operation from the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). The Department has allocated R 10 million to the project.
Mr Mangcu pointed out that the third project is the credit-card format drivers' license. This was started in 1998 and its first phase ends in early 2003. He also highlighted the issue of confusion after media reports that these were fraudulent, which is not the case. An achievement in this regard was the introduction next year of e-image photos and fingerprints instead of the manual method being used now. Challenges include sensitising drivers to convert into credit-card type driver's licenses. Another challenge was the slow process of conversion to this card-like format in the former TBVC states.
The fourth focusin this regard is the NATIS programme which is an electronic version of registering all vehicles on the road. The current system is based on a tender awarded to a company in 1989 which had never been renewed but kept on being extended since then. In 1999 the Department reexamined the situation and a new service provider will soon be awarded the tender for NATIS.
Through NATIS, they have linked up with SARS who have in turn been able to collect about R200 million from people who were evading tax. This has also linked the National Intelligence as well as the SAPS and the DTI. Challenges include a shortage of funds. Operational problems include skills drainage once people get well acquainted with the necessary computer skills.
Another project is the upgrading of driver testing centres and in this regard, R 21,5 million had been set aside by the Department. in the next financial year about R19 million has been budgeted for the continuation of this project. Challenges include the slow processing of funds by the provincial Treasuries to the various provincial Transport Departments for allocation.
Mr Slabbert (IFP) noted, firstly, on the issue of road-worthiness testing, different testing venues have different reputations and it was a shame that some were seen as difficult and others as easy.
Mr Mangcu fully agreed that at the moment the process is corrupt and as a Department they strongly felt that the human element needs to be removed as much as possible if progress is to be made in cleaning up the system.
The Chair, Mr Cronin, asked if the e-image system will apply to everyone including those who have already qualified or is it for new applicants. On the issue of image scanning, he pointed out that the new card system has an expiry period upon which a holder will have to renew his license and thereby become integrated into the new image scanning.
Arrive Alive Presentation
Mr Ntau Letebele: Manager for Road Safety Projects, pointed out that his presentation is part of the Arrive Alive communications. Progress so far is encouraging.
The main goal of arrive alive communications is to promote road traffic safety to effect a decrease in road accidents, fatalities and injuries as well as contributing road traffic offences. A key weakness has been the focus on peak periods only, December-January, and Easter. However, they have now refocused to make it a yearlong campaign.
Regarding arrive alive advertising, he informed the Committee that about 370 pedestrian safety billboards have been put up. There has also been bus advertising, e-screens at soccer matches, e-screens at garage forecourts stations and rank TV at ten of the biggest taxi ranks like Baragwanath, Park Station and others.
Arrive Alive Mobilisation is a joint project with BHP Billiton to encourage road safety in the mining industry. The Arrive Alive sponsors include, amongst others, SAB, Pick 'n Pay, BP South Africa and Engen.
A road traffic safety milestone event is 21 November, a World Remembrance Day for motorcar accident victims, Road Safety Week, Limpopo eclipse (early December), Arrive Alive December launch and Arrive Alive Information Centre.
Mr Letebele pointed out that pedestrian safety is also a central concern of the programme. Currently fifteen out of nineteen Joint Traffic Control Centres have been completed. On the issue of professionalism training, he pointed out that they have conducted an evaluation of the various traffic-training colleges.
The challenges therein include equipment as well as facility upgrading. A new salary scale for traffic officers has also been introduced in order to improve their earnings and morale. Lastly, he informed the Committee that a single new uniform for traffic officers has been accepted at a provincial level.
Mr Slabbert (IFP) pointed out that a new uniform is good, but what would happen to the old one? Secondly, does the Department interact strongly with the law enforcement agencies?
With regard to the new uniform, Mr Letebele pointed out that a survey will be conducted throughout the provinces to determine which new uniform is in favour with traffic officers and the results will then inform the adoption of a particular uniform. Secondly, with regard to interaction with the law enforcement officers, there is interaction, especially with regard to the metro-traffic officials with whom they have strong links. Also, as an example, due to the eclipse in the Limpopo in December and expected high traffic volumes, the Department has seen fit to allocate more vehicles and personnel for this period to cope with the situation.
Mr Schneemann (ANC) asked how the Department evaluates the effectiveness of their advertising strategies. He felt that drivers are getting worse instead of improving on the road.
On the strategy evaluation issue, Mr Letebele pointed out that they have commissioned a company called UNIAC to conduct research into the effectiveness of these campaigns.
Ms Coetzee-Casper (ANC) felt that all eleven languages should be used for effective communication. Secondly, with respect to scholar patrol, who is going to take charge of funding the volunteer training programme?
Mr Ainslie (ANC) asked if scholar-patrols are compulsory or a voluntary measure left to a school to determine the need.
On the languages issue, Mr Letebele pointed out that the position they have taken is to cluster similar languages like the Nguni languages together as well as the Sotho languages together so as to save the costs of advertising in the various pamphlet and leaflets to be issued. Regarding scholar patrols, he pointed out that research has shown that if parents take their children to school themselves, the children internalise the appropriate traffic behaviour under such circumstances. The issue of volunteer training and its costs is therefore not the right approach to be looking at.
National Traffic Call Centre
Mr Gerrie Botha, a Departmental official, briefed the Committee on the National Traffic Call Centre and related projects. The Special Accident Investigations Project has yielded preliminary reports in Kroonstad, Fort Beaufort, Stanger and Howick.
Traffic offence surveys for 2001-2002 indicate a high rate of traffic offences. It was established that about 10% of accidents were alcohol-related. Seatbelt cases accounted for 25 % of passenger related cases whereas speeding in urban areas accounted for 43%. Mr Botha pointed out that the major contributing factors to road accidents include human factors at 57%, largely reckless and negligent driving behaviour. Vehicle factors contribute about 29% due to unroadworthy vehicles and poor maintenance. Thirdly, road environment contributes to about 14% due to poor road maintenance, poor road signs, cattle on the road as well as poor safeguarding of roadwork sites and signs.
On overload control, he pointed out that a workshop involving all transport related stakeholders was held in 2001 and a draft strategy identified ten priority areas which included a strategic route map, overload data, habitual offenders, legislation and agreements as well as short-term insurance.
Ms Coetzee-Casper (ANC) asked if nullifying overload induced accident claims will apply in cases involving the RAF as well.
On the RAF issue, Mr Botha noted that this will not affect these kind of claims. However, the rules of the road will apply to both overloaded buses and taxis as to any car on the road guilty of an offence.
Mr Slabbert (IFP) asked what is being done about dark-tinted window cars since they are illegal.
Mr Botha said that they are in the process of putting together a manual for regulations concerning the dark-tinted windows. The issue is also looked at in terms of a testing measure which determines the concentration of the material on the glass and whether it is illegal or not.
Mr Schneemann (ANC) referred to drivers' statistics and asked what they are measured against; are they compared to previous years' data to determine if there are any improvements?
On the comparison of statistics, he pointed out that the various reports they put together show this. The various annual reports do show comparisons with the previous years statistics and indicate whether there have been improvements or not.
Mr Ainslie (ANC) asked if any action can be taken against adult drivers who have been reported through these centres. Secondly, speed is said to be a major contributor to accidents on the road, yet at the same time we have always allowed vehicles with higher speeds (up to 250km/h at times) to be sold in the country.
On the tracking of offending adult drivers, he noted that unfortunately they cannot do more than notify the offender as a measure of warning them of their knowledge of such an offence. As time goes on and an offender repeatedly transgresses the laws, the person is called to a hearing with a senior government official like an MEC or Director General (National or Provincial) to determine why the offender keeps repeating the same offence time and again.
On the speed issue, Mr Botha noted that unfortunately there is not much he can do or say about the problem except to say that it seems to be a worldwide problem at this stage.
The meeting was adjourned.
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