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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 June 2006
ROAD SAFETY: BRIEFING BY AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out
Automobile Association (AA) presentation
"Mr President, you have to walk in the blood" (Article from Fleetwatch, June 2006)
Make Roads Safe (Commission for Global Road Safety Brochure and DVD) [available at www.makeroadsafe.org)
The Committee was briefed by the Automobile Association of South Africa on road safety issues. The briefing dealt with international road safety experiences, the requirements to improve local road safety and examples of successful road safety models.
Members raised concerns about outdated road safety statistics, inexperienced drivers, reckless driving and abuse of alcohol and drugs by drivers leading to accidents and deaths.
Automobile Association (AA) presentation
The DVD which was shown to the Committee had influential leaders from different parts of the world coming together to join the fight against road traffic accidents which where taking millions of lives every year. 80% of the accidents appeared to be occurring in medium and low income countries, and the accidents had high economic and human costs coming up to as much as 100 billion dollars a year. In the DVD it was said that if the World Bank as a financial institution which is involved in structural programmes with regards to the building of roads in various developing countries, was to invest only 4 billion dollars, and have more than two safety professionals it would manage to help developing countries overcome most of the challenges faced with regards to traffic. This was said to be because in most developing countries infrastructure and city planning is very poor, thus pedestrians and other innocent drivers where at high risk of being killed unnecessarily in automobile accidents. In Vietnam alone up to 500 children a month were killed in car accidents and in Costa Rica the use of education and the use of other creative methods reduced the death toll 20%.
After the DVD presentation, Ms P Kruger displaying graphic pictures of car accidents which are presented in the “Mr President You Have to Walk in the Blood” article. Ms Kruger went on to express extensively and passionately that in order to solve South Africa’s problems political will would be very necessary, and there was a great need to work with the international road safety organizations. South Africa would also need to raise its safety standards. Ms Kruger urged the Committee that South Africa would need to start a programme which would make it possible for the country to borrow funds from the World Bank. Ms Kruger then shared with the Committee the fact that she had traveled to 9 different African countries. She gave the example of Nairobi in Kenya and said that as the capital city it had no emergency aid, it faced three hour back logs because of traffic jams and they where short of equipment such that the police officers had to borrow breathalyzers from British Airways if they wanted to test if someone was drunk.
Mr G Ronald continued with the presentation saying that if South Africa did not do anything about its situation, it too would end up like East Africa. Mr Ronald said that he had had problems with getting people in business to participate because he believed that they only understood business. There was also the problem of having many ideas to solve these problems but not enough enforcement. Mr Ronald recommended that South Africa follow the American model called the NET programme (Network of Employers for Traffic Safety). With this model, 20 people would be employed to research the impact accidents have on companies and using the data convince financial managers that by ignoring the problem they were in actual fact losing money. Botswana was an example of a good country to follow because people at grass roots level were also involved and assisted in the decision-making, giving them a sense of responsibility.
Mr Ronald went on to list recommendations. He suggested that:
-Any public vehicle carrying goods or people be driven with the head lights on so that people would be more cautious
-A provision for front engined busses to have lower bumpers.
-All vehicles to be checked for emissions.
-The provision for a temporary full time license be considered which would last for two years so that people would learn to drive with caution while they were still gaining experience.
-People wanting to drive public vehicles go through more rigorous testing than they currently were.
-The government helps the Arrive Alive Project.
-A new system be adopted such that it would be easy to access accident data.
Ms Kruger added that the latest statistics were from 1998, yet this was a project the government should be supporting because they were trying to measure how many lives they could save.
Mr Ronald mentioned that more co-operation between stakeholders was needed because they were all trying to achieve the same thing. In sharing the load everyone would be able to save money and accomplish the same goal. Mr Ronald suggested the Road Accident Fund (RAF) should be looked at, and its legislation rewritten because there were many controversial issues pertaining to it. Mr Ronald also touched on the fact that police officers should be taught how to identify people on drugs because they were a danger on the roads.
Mr S B Farrow (DA) asked what lobbying the AA had done and whether SA fuel companies were assisting the road safety drive.
Mr S A Mshudulu (ANC) asked the AA if it had an existing relationship with institutions and what influence the AA had over Integrated Development Plans (IDPs). Mr Mshudulu went on to mention that records were available but the AA would have to work together with the police. He mentioned that young people had to have a driver’s license because it was a job requirement.
Mr Ronald reacted that people would first need a learner’s licence and then a provisional license that would exist for two or three years. Only after this period, should permanent licenses be issued.
The Chairperson felt the presentation should form part of the school curriculum.
Mr O M Mogale (ANC) asked where the AA got its statistics from if it claimed to have difficulty obtaining recent figures. He also asked if the AA was well funded.
Mr Ronald responded that their statistics were old and the AA was poorly funded.
A Member suggested that people involved in accidents should be tested for alcohol and drug use.
The Chairperson also suggested that trade unions should be consulted.
Ms L Moss (ANC) added that truck drivers drive fast to save time and make more money, but this made them more prone to being involved in accidents.
Mr Farrow asked if it was possible to make public arrests on private property.
Mr Ronald responded that it was possible for the traffic police to arrest someone in public or on private property, as well as to inspect vehicles without a warrant.
Ms B Thomson (ANC) mentioned that the AA had done a good job; all that was lacking was proper law enforcement and implementation of policy.
Ms W Watson (Department of Transport) said that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure road safety.
The meeting was adjourned.
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