Speaking notes for the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, on the occasion of the 2022 Festive Season Road Safety Campaign launch held at Heidelberg Weighbridge, Ekurhuleni On 8 December 2022 At 13h00
Director-General of the Department, Adv James Mlawu;
CEO of the RTMC, Adv Makhosini Msibi;
Acting CEO of SANRAL, Ms Lehlohonolo Pitse;
Ladies and gentlemen
Today we mark the start of the 2022 Festive Season Road Safety Arrive Alive Campaign, following two years of various levels of restrictions brought about by the COVID- 19 pandemic. This year marks the first year of normal activity since the declaration of the state of national disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
This is a period when families get together, schools are closed, and many workers are on a Christmas break and everyone partakes in the festivities of the season. It is a time to relax, recharge and take a well-deserved break from a challenging year. It is equally a period where many revelers take to the roads having had one too many while others conduct themselves recklessly placing the lives of other road users at risk.
This is also a period when migrant workers make their way home away from the cities where they earn a living, crossing Provincial and national boundaries, resulting in congested roads. This places tremendous pressure on our roads and requires heightened law enforcement to ensure that every road user reaches their destination alive.
This congestion across our national road network requires of the road users to exercise extreme caution and vigilance. Road crashes resulting in serious injuries and fatalities continue to pose a huge burden to our economy, with a loss of more than R188 billion annually.
Historic trends demonstrate that the festive season is characterized by lawlessness on our roads. This is a consequence of those who conduct themselves in a manner that undermines the rights of others to use the shared roadspace. This is conduct that often results in the loss of life and limb on the roads.
We remain resolute in our efforts to arrest the carnage on our roads. It is of paramount importance that we tackle the drivers of fatalities on the road.
It is estimated that more than 90% of road traffic crashes can be directly attributed to the human element, which invariably relate to violation of traffic rules.
Today we are launching the 2022 Road Safety Arrive Alive Campaign under the theme “It Starts with You”. This is to emphasise that road safety is a collective responsibility.
If we are to achieve our target of reduce carnage on our roads by 25% by 31 March 2024, road users must change their behaviour and attitude. Law enforcers must do their work without fear or favour and road authorities must create a conductive environment to improve safety on the roads.
However, we all know that the festive season is called a silly season because this is the period in which people exhibit their worst behaviour. It is this phenomenon that we intend to uproot and throw a book at those who continue to break the law with impunity. Reckless behaviour that places the safety of others in harm’s way will not go unpunished and the consequences will be dire.
We must all remember that there is life beyond December. Beyond December children must go to school, workers must get back to the task of enabling economic productivity, and life’s ambitions must be fulfilled. That is why we remind people to live beyond December.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has packaged a comprehensive plan towards tackling ill- discipline that drives fatalities on our roads. As we implement our festive season law enforcement interventions, we will tighten the noose around the necks of those who continue to perpetuate unlawful conduct.
All traffic law enforcement authorities across spheres of government, have committed themselves to aggressively tackle the following priority areas:
• Vehicle roadworthiness
• Pedestrian safety
• Public passenger Transport
• Drunken driving
All vehicle fitness aspects will be closely monitored with intensified emphasis on passenger-carrying vehicles such as minibus taxis, buses and bakkies. All transgressions will be addressed and prioritised accordingly, and offenders will meet with the full might of the law.
The interventions that we initiated on the N2 Pongola and N3 Pietermaritzburg, including the routes R34 and R66 to address truck crash will be intensified. We are pleased that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has dedicated prosecutors, who will direct investigations of all truck and bus crashes on these routes.
Multi-disciplinary law enforcement operations will be conducted over the festive season to stop and check trucks and buses for roadworthiness on these routes as part of a nation-wide operation. Traffic authorities will also use the automatic number plate recognition technology to determine if trucks and buses travelling on the identified routes comply with road regulations.
Vehicles travelling without registration plates or permits will be prosecuted. Special targeted alcohol enforcement roadblocks will be carried out at high-risk areas and motorists are warned that should they be found with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, the law will take its full course.
A stern warning must go to those who believe they can drive under the influence of alcohol on our roads with impunity because they have the means to bribe law enforcement officials. Our anti-corruption efforts will focus on these wayward motorists and those law enforcement officials who either accept or solicit these bribes. This is a cancer we are determined to uproot if we are to make a telling difference in making our roads safer.
This year, our traffic law enforcement has been given a boost with the deployment of new technology, called the e- force. The National Traffic Police has piloted this technology over the past few months and has held extensive engagements with prosecution authorities to enable its use in traffic management. The e-force will enable our officers to prosecute more traffic offenders, as it enables them to identify drivers and ownership of vehicles by simply scanning the drivers’ licenses and vehicle discs. Minimum effort and maximum results. Those who driver around with vehicle discs obtained fraudulently will be apprehended.
Through the RTMC’s national anti-corruption unit we have built institutional capacity to deal with bribery, fraud, and corruption in traffic management across spheres of government. The anti-corruption unit will be deployed to ensure that corruption by both law enforcement officers, and motorists does not undermine our efforts. We will only succeed if motorists and the broader civil society work with us in unearthing corruption in the traffic environment.
To our men and women in uniform, the task of saving life and limb and ensuring our roads are safe is an important national service you must undertake with diligence and pride. This is an immense contribution not only to ensuring that the economy thrives, but also to saving lives that have so much to contribute to society. We salute your efforts and will provide the necessary support to ensure that you have the necessary tools of trade to do your work to the best of your ability.
To all road users who rely on our roads for their livelihood and to connect with family and loved ones, I appeal that you to exercise care and patience on the road and appreciate that the road is a shared space. Be patient at the various enforcement interventions and remember these officers are out there doing a thankless task, exposed to the elements just to ensure your safety. Saving life and limb this festive season depends on your conduct and respect for the rights of others using the road. We must all appreciate that road safety is everyone’s responsibility. It starts with you.
I wish to conclude with a special appeal to motorists. Please drive with your headlights on during the day to enhance visibility. Please plan your trips carefully and avoid travelling at night or early hours of the morning as these are times when most crashes occur. Reduce your speed when driving in rainy conditions. Be always on the lookout for pedestrians.
I also wish to thank the private sector partners who continue to support our road safety efforts throughout the year.
We are in this together. Working together, we can make a telling difference in saving life and limb on our roads and grow South Africa. Buckle up and let us all Arrive Alive.
I thank you.
Source: Government of South Africa