Will Aarto re­form bill be stuck in neu­tral?

Saturday Star - - OPINION -

de­spite the amnesties and the dis­counts. Some peo­ple reg­is­tered and then chose not to pay. Noth­ing’s hap­pened to them, even though San­ral knows where they live and can – and should – send them their bills.

What about li­cences? How many peo­ple drive around with ex­pired li­cences, un­will­ing to go through the schlepp of queue­ing for a day to test their eyes, have their fin­ger­prints taken again, pay for a tem­po­rary li­cence and then queue to pick it up in six weeks’ time?

How many peo­ple bother to get a li­cence in the first place? How many buy theirs?

Th­ese aren’t idle ques­tions from the lap of pam­pered priv­i­lege: One of my kids was of­fered a li­cence the first time she went for her test. By the time she’d been failed four times, I was start­ing to won­der whether it wouldn’t have been cheaper – be­cause by then she was al­most at the level of an ad­vanced driver.

But that’s not the point. There’s the time she did pass and was then promptly failed be­cause the car she was in, mine, had a disc that was a fort­night past its ex­piry date.

There were the times she was asked who her driv­ing in­struc­tor was, even though I al­most as­saulted the one we’d got for her (and paid through the nose for) for try­ing to sex­u­ally ha­rass her in his car dur­ing “train­ing”. You have to have an in­struc­tor be­cause of the all-im­por­tant, wholly out­dated, K53 which is a litany of counter-in­tu­itive driv­ing skills that you only need to learn for your test and then un­learn fast if you want to stay alive on our roads.

She got her li­cence the hard way. She drives like a dream, which is just as well be­cause it’s not her I’m wor­ried about, it’s the killers on the road. They aren’t the ob­vi­ous tar­gets: the drunk driv­ers or the mo­torists in un­road­wor­thy wrecks all over the CBD, they’re peo­ple in late model high per­for­mance, mostly Ger­man, up­mar­ket sedans, be­hav­ing as if they own the roads. They’re the peo­ple who push in, take half chances, flick their lights at you to go faster than the speed limit or try to over­take at speed out­side a school.

You know the type. You might even be one of them.

Let’s not even start with drunken driv­ing. It’s a joke. You still can’t get a con­vic­tion from a breathal­yser; it’s only re­ally a screen­ing mech­a­nism to es­tab­lish whether you need to get taken to the district sur­geon to have blood taken. The labs to which your sam­ple will be sent are hope­lessly over loaded, the pay is low, the op­por­tu­ni­ties for sam­ples to be lost, through ne­far­i­ous means or just sod’s law, are le­gion.

It’s ironic that we have drink driv­ing laws that are on a par with in­ter na­tional best prac­tice, we have al­most zero tol­er­ance, but you wouldn’t think so given our pros­e­cu­tion rate. Hell, we’ve still got a high court judge on spe­cial leave – a decade af­ter he crashed his Jaguar into a wall in Craighall and eight years af­ter he was con­victed of drunken driv­ing – as he fights any bid to have a ju­di­cial tri­bunal probe his fit­ness for of­fice. There are many other ex­am­ples; blue light driv­ers killing pedes­tri­ans and maim­ing mo­tor­cy­clists.

They should be dis­graced, pun­ished, even jailed.

Some, like Jub Jub Maaro­hanye, even­tu­ally do go to jail – for a while.

He ploughed into a group of school kids while he was smashed on drugs and booze. He and his mate Themba Tsha­bal­ala were sent down for 25 years on a mur­der rap af­ter killing four kids and maim­ing two. They got this over­turned to an eightyear stint on a cul­pa­ble homi­cide rap and then got freed on pa­role af­ter serv­ing slightly more than half their re­vised sen­tence.

Who­ever said the law’s an ass, def­i­nitely gets my vote.

We don’t need more laws, we just need them ap­plied uni­formly and fairly, all the time.

We need driv­ers who are trained to drive de­fen­sively, not bu­reau­crat­i­cally, who don’t opt to do their li­cence in medium-sized trucks be­cause you don’t have to par­al­lel park in the yard tests if you do. We need their li­cences to mean that they can ac­tu­ally drive.

We need cor­rupt traf­fic cops, bent li­cens­ing of­fi­cers and dodgy pros­e­cu­tors rooted out and jailed.

The hor­ri­ble truth is that, all the votes on Tuesday notwith­stand­ing, there isn’t ac­tu­ally the po­lit­i­cal will to stamp out this scourge. I would love Aarto to work, but it won’t. There are sim­ply too many loop­holes – and too many agen­das try­ing to make po­lit­i­cal head­way out of any­thing.

There’s only one cer­tainty, peo­ple will con­tinue to die on our roads – avoid­ably. And that’s not just our great­est tragedy, it’s our great­est shame too.

There’s no po­lit­i­cal will to stamp out scourge of killer driv­ers, says the writer. And peo­ple will con­tinue to die on our roads be­cause the laws of the road are too le­nient, or not even ad­hered to.

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