Minister Carlisle and Plato Launch Safely Home Road Safety Plan for Easter Weekend | SafelyHome

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Minister Carlisle and Plato Launch Safely Home Road Safety Plan for Easter Weekend / 3 April 2012

Joint Media Statement by Ministers Robin Carlisle and Dan Plato

All Safely Home programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing road safety during the festive season are in place as a transversal approach between the Western Cape Departments of Community Safety, Transport and Health.

We are committed to increasing safety in the province and are working proactively towards reducing the numbers of lives lost on our roads.

This Easter weekend, we have once again been focusing on visibility, enforcement and education on all national and provincial routes in the Western Cape. Whilst preventative measures are in place, so are all processes to ensure swift and effective reaction to incidents.

Our Safely Home campaign sees an integrated law enforcement approach and has already brought about a 27.6% reduction in road fatalities in less than three years.

All law enforcement officers and medical personnel will be out in full force.

Now we must urge every road user, including our public transport operators, to take responsibility for their side of the partnership and to act in the interests of safety. We can only continue to bring fatalities down by being better together.

Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety

Together with all other law enforcement agencies, we are bolstering resources to increase safety and combat reckless behaviour on our roads.

Over the December/January festive season, we saw a change in driver behaviour, with fewer fatalities on our roads and more people using taxi services after a night out on the weekend. We hope that this more responsible driver behaviour will continue over the school holidays and Easter weekend.

I would like to encourage the public to continue being aware of the dangers of drunk driving and ensure that they don't put themselves in a situation that could wreck not only their own lives but also the lives of others.

Our Provincial Traffic Services will be focusing on a few key elements of the Safely Home campaign over the school holidays and leading up to the Easter weekend; these are speed limit enforcement, driver fatigue, drunk driving, unroadworthy vehicles and pedestrian safety.

This year, our traffic officers have been asked to breathalyse every driver passing through our roadblocks, and it is our hope that this will further curb the illegal behaviour of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. I would like to call on all residents and visitors to this province to drink responsibly and get safely home.

I will also be visiting a number of Safely Home roadblocks in the province, where we will hand out disposable breathalysers to drivers. We will encourage motorists to use the breathalysers; they could save their lives.

Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works

Over the four days of the Easter Weekend in 2009, 21 people died. In 2010, the number was 28, while last year it dropped to seven. At the risk of sounding too optimistic, a zero-fatality figure is within reach and should be our ultimate goal.

The figures for the entire month of April over the past three years stood at 132 in 2009, 115 in 2010 and 102 in 2011. We are aiming, with the assistance of responsible road users, to better our April 2011 figure this time around.

Last month - March 2012 - 92 people died on Western Cape roads. While still far too high, this is a 37% reduction on last year's March figure of 147.

The average reduction in road fatalities, on a moving annual basis, from January 2009 to date, is 27.6%. While 1 705 people died in 2008, over the past 12 months that number has dropped to 1 259.

Public transport vehicle fatigue management operations are planned on all of our major routes, as well as at the various weighbridges to promote commuter safety and fight driver fatigue. We have learnt from our forced fatigue management initiative during December/January 2011/2012, which led to a zero public transport death toll on the affected sections of the N1.

We will have a strong focus on public transport vehicles and our weighbridges and impoundment facilities are ready for action to be taken against illegal operators and unroadworthy vehicles.

In order to identify and monitor the movement of public transport vehicles on the N1 and the N2, we have again implemented the colour-coded sticker project at weighbridges and long-distance taxi ranks. This system of monitoring public transport vehicles at each roadblock along our major routes allows us to monitor speed, as well as driver fatigue.

Unmarked traffic patrol vehicles will be deployed to focus on moving violations and those found guilty will be prosecuted. Here we want to make a special appeal to those drivers who are taking their families on holiday to be extra vigilant on sections of road where overtaking could be dangerous. Rather get to your holiday destination a little bit later than not getting there at all.

Average speed over distance: The average speed over distance monitor system, which was installed on the R61 between Beaufort West and Aberdeen to address the high fatality rate there, will continue its work.

Number plate recognition: We are deploying vehicles equipped with the number plate recognition system to assist law enforcement officials with the identification of those without or with fraudulent driver's licences or warrants of arrest against them, as well as stolen vehicles operating on our roads.

Hotline: We also want the public to be aware of the Provincial Traffic Radio Control number, 021 812 4581/2. Call immediately if you observe dangerous or reckless driving. Your call could save lives.

Safely Home activities to get our message across this Easter weekend:

  • Our partnership with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) "Hlokomela", which is Sotho for "we care", project, whose goal it is to "change the face of the taxi industry", will be intensified.\Industry leaders will be assisting our officials at ranks and roadblocks to identify unroadworthy vehicles and address drivers on safety and the need for regular rests.

  • Our department has engaged with the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), whose members have been providing free vehicle checks since 28 March and until 5 April for those who intend hitting the roads over the Easter period.

  • The Safely Home and our public transport safety and compliance teams will be out on the key routes to assist traffic officials at routine checks and to hand out safety awareness and fatigue avoidance leaflets.

  • We have been assured that once again traffic officials will be focusing on child restraints.

A special appeal goes out to passengers on buses and taxis; report your drivers if they drive recklessly. We will ensure that as far as our resources allow, every call is followed up.

I would like to thank those many road users that have made the decision to stop drinking and driving, to slow down, to buckle themselves and their children up and to stop using their cellphones. It is a small minority who are still doing the killing. I would like to urge this minority - let's all take the side of safety, starting this festive season, and make sure that each and every one of us gets Safely Home.

Minister Theuns Botha has assured us that the Western Cape increase their resources over the Easter weekend - from 5 April until 10 April.

Special collaboration with supplementary voluntary and private services such as Wildnerness Search and Rescue (WSAR), Air Mercy Service (AMS), National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and ER24 will provide increased resources to the communities of the Western Cape.

Emergency Medical, Rescue and Major Incident Medical Management Units will be on standby in high-risk locations along the arterial routes, including the N1, N2, N7, R62, R61 and R27, as well as hotspots in the city. In addition, a 23-seater bus will be strategically placed in Beaufort West to transport uninjured victims in the event of a public transport/major incident.

Local and long-distance taxi operators will be involved to facilitate the transportation of stranded passengers in the event of one of their members being involved in a crash during this period.

EMS will also offer cross border assistance to neighbouring provinces, after crashes.

These areas include:

  • N7 - North of Bitterfontein.

  • N1 - Towards Three Sisters.

  • R61 - Towards Aberdeen.

  • N12 - North of Uniondale.

  • N2 - East of Toll Gate Natures Valley and N2 Crags.