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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
30 AUGUST 2006
NATIONAL ROAD SAFETY STRATEGY 2006: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
National Road Safety Strategy 2006 Onwards
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on the National Road Safety Strategy 2006. At the start of January 2006 the Minister of Transport had announced that a new strategy for transport safety would be developed.
Members welcomed the strategy, but questioned whether it would really change the mindsets and attitudes of motorists. They also insisted on better traffic law enforcement, repairs to poor roads, the proper registration of driving schools and better collection of traffic fines.
Department of Transport (DOT) National Road Safety Strategy 2006 Onwards Presentation
DOT Chief Director: Road Transport Regulation, Ms W Watson presented the Department's National Road Safety Strategy. At the start of January 2006 the Minister of Transport announced that a new strategy for transport would be developed. The Chairperson of this Committee had previously commented that transport tends to be forgotten. Too many people are dying on the roads. The meeting of African Ministers of Transport in Addis Ababa in April 2006 identified the need to reduce fatalities on Africa's roads by half by 2014. This translates to a 105% reduction per annum, which is a saving of 40 000 lives by 2014. The syllabus for the training of traffic officers has been changed. Outsurance has sponsored 120 vehicles. An Incident Management Manual has been completed and is available in three volumes. Fraud and corruption are still rife throughout the industry. 74% of households depend on public transport and this sector had to remain the Department's focus. Road safety affected every citizen, remained a public interest issue and the death levels were unsatisfactory and unacceptable. The Road Safety Strategy includes the following: prioritising public road safety, road traffic management coordination and enforcement. A review of progress will be done on an annual basis. Technology will be utilised to ensure the effective implementation of regulations. The Department will regulate the speed limit in areas where there are schools and high pedestrian activity. Drivers will be retrained and re-tested after serious accidents. The driving school industry is in the process of being regulated. Should a driving school not be registered on the Department’s system they could face heavy penalties. An annual progress review of the entire strategy plan as well as reporting back to the annual Transport Lekgotla would be done.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) commented that it would be useful if the Members were supplied with a list of acronyms that was used in the presentation. He wanted to know what role insurance companies could play in bringing down the number of accidents on the road. He asked why the traffic officers “hid” themselves. He also wanted to know if the reduction of the speed limit would not cause more accidents.
Ms Watson replied that she had tried to explain some of the acronyms in the presentation. A list of the acronyms and its meanings would be sent to the Committee secretary. Various organisations had been consulted while the Department was drafting their strategy. A road safety manual has been printed and is available in three volumes. In some municipal areas the traffic fines have been budgeted for. The Department has thought about putting fake cameras along roads to encourage motorists not to speed. Lower speed limits will only be implemented in areas where there is high activity.
Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) commented that some roads were breaking up, citing the example in the Wilderness area. She wanted to know if a survey of all roads had been performed. She also wanted to know what was being done about the theft of traffic signs for scrap purposes.
Ms Watson replied that the road in the Wilderness should not have been built, but former President PW Botha had insisted on it. The road will have to be repaired at huge cost to the state. The Department is not aware of any traffic signs been stolen. The metal is not of any value as it is not made of copper. She said that scrap yard dealers should be prosecuted for buying the signs.
Mr M Swathe (DA) wanted to know if all driving schools are registered and if new traffic officials will be employed to monitor and inspect driving schools. He wanted to know how the Department would clamp down on fly-by-night driving schools.
Ms Watson replied that the Department would develop standards and guidelines for driving schools and its instructors. Driving instructors will be required to complete a course, which would include first aid. Once the course had been completed they could open a driving school. Should someone who is not an instructor provide capital, they would have to find a driving instructor who is registered. Currently the Department was still at the start of the process and hoped to have it implemented within the next 18 months. Strong action would be taken against driving schools that are not registered.
A Member wanted to know what is being done about Voortrekker Road in Cape Town as it is a potential death trap. He said that many pedestrians crossed the road. He wanted to know who should be informed about it. He wanted to know how effective the National Call Centre is.
Ms Watson replied that dangerous roads should be reported to the National Call Centre.
The Chairperson commented that they had integrated development plans; however transport has to be mainstreamed and localised. The month of October would focus on transport.
Ms Watson replied that they would raise this as one of the challenges. She said that there are different technical committees that looked at the various issues.
Mr M Moss (ANC) wanted to know what was being done about the three shacks on the corner of Voortrekker and 3rd Avenue. The shacks posed a risk to motorists as people were living on the pavement. He wanted to know how many accidents were caused by motorists who drove bakkies (pickups). He also wanted to know how the total cost of a road death was calculated.
Ms Watson replied that the houses on the side of the road would fall under the Local Road Authority. She said that it would be difficult to demolish the houses as the people are living there because they did not have anywhere else to go. Bakkies (pickups) had the highest accident rate. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had done a lot of research into the cost of deaths and disability caused by road accidents.
The Chairperson commented that the court did not accept Breathalyzer tests. This caused a backlog in court cases as it took months for a blood test to be ready.
Ms Watson replied that a tender has been put out for 20 new Breathalyzers, which would be accepted by the court. Ideally every police vehicle should have one.
Mr B Pule (UCDP) commented that taxis tended to stop in the middle of the road to offload people. He wanted to know why traffic officials were still tolerating this.
Ms N Nkabinde (UDM) wanted to know why cars were manufactured that could reach up to 280kph. She wanted to know why most Arrive Alive campaigns were in English only. She suggested periodic testing for a driver’s license. She also wanted to know if motorists who were victims of hijacking were able to claim from the Road Accident Fund.
Ms Watson replied that most law enforcement officers were scared of taxi drivers, which is why they are allowed to offload people anywhere. She said that there is a zero tolerance attitude. The problem with the taxi industry is that it is not yet regulated. There are 36 Arrive Alive advertisements in all the official languages, especially for radio. They were working on getting the television advertisements into other languages. A motorist has to renew their license every five years. Each time it is renewed they needed to declare that they are medically fit. Hijacking victims may not claim from the Road Accident Fund.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) wanted to know what the operating hours of the call centre was. He wanted to know if the computerised learner’s license is a pilot project and when it will be rolled out to other provinces. He wanted to know if the Department had the capacity to collect fines.
Ms Watson replied that some provinces have looked at the Kwazulu-Natal model. Fine collections are a capacity problem, which the Department was currently working on.
Ms L Moss (ANC) commented that government should not wait for an event like the 2010 World Cup to implement a strategy plan; this should be ongoing.
Ms Watson replied that there were cluster meetings where these issues were raised.
Mr M Swathe (DA) wanted to know if the probation period of three years for learner drivers who had passed the practical test, would not pose a problem to them when seeking employment.
Ms Watson replied that the probation period only means that they would have special rules applied to them. They would not be allowed to violate any traffic rules in that period. It would not affect the buying of a car, or prevent one from seeking employment.
The Chairperson commented that next year would be declared the year of international road safety. The Department remained the political force in road safety.
Mr Mogale commented that nothing was being done to change the mindset of motorists and pedestrians.
The Chairperson noted that the message which government is sending out needed to be reinforced through education.
Ms Watson replied that the most effective campaigns were the ones that were aimed at changing attitudes and mindsets.
The meeting was adjourned.
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