Static polic­ing not work­ing

Law en­forcers need to be pa­trolling roads as well as check­ing for ex­pired li­cence discs, says AA

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

FOR some time now the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA) has been call­ing for more ef­fec­tive traf­fic polic­ing, as an ur­gent step to ad­dress­ing road car­nage in our coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (RTMC), ap­prox­i­mately 13 000 peo­ple died on the coun­try’s roads last year.

While it is agreed that the at­ti­tude of mo­torists gen­er­ally needs sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment, a rad­i­cal re­think is also needed among traf­fic law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to ad­dress se­ri­ous crashes, and road deaths, on the coun­try’s roads. “Road safety in South Africa re­mains a ma­jor prob­lem.

“Too many mo­torists sim­ply ig­nore the rules be­liev­ing that they are ei­ther above the law, will never be caught, or that they will not be harmed through their own reck­less driv­ing. If the death toll is to de­crease, this at­ti­tude needs to change,” the AA said.

But, it noted, while this is im­por­tant, noth­ing will change with­out more ef­fec­tive traf­fic polic­ing.

“In our opinion there is too much em­pha­sis placed on ‘static’ polic­ing where of­fi­cers check for speed­ing cars or for ex­pired li­cence discs while sta­tioned at the side of the road. While a zero tol­er­ance ap­proach is good, this alone sim­ply doesn’t work as risky mo­torists ad­just their be­hav­iour un­til they are past th­ese points,” said the AA.

It said that the en­force­ment of laws against dan­ger­ous driv­ing ac­tions need to be pri­ori­tised by law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

This in­cluded mon­i­tor­ing drivers who speed, but also those who over­take dan­ger­ously, drive in emer­gency lanes to avoid traf­fic con­ges­tion, use elec­tronic de­vices while driv­ing, or who swerve in and out of traf­fic with­out re­gard for other drivers.

“Laws are flouted and lives are risked on the road not the side of the road, and that is where our law en­forcers need to be: on the road. The ar­eas, which are known to the po­lice and pub­lic where laws are con­sis­tently be­ing ignored, should re­ceive fo­cused at­ten­tion,” said the As­so­ci­a­tion.

The As­so­ci­a­tion said apart from chang­ing the way they op­er­ate, law en­forcers also needed to en­sure they ap­plied the law con­sis­tently, and fairly, to all road users. It noted that there have been calls from govern­ment for harsher penal­ties for cer­tain traf­fic of­fences, but it said the cur­rent laws are more than suf­fi­cient and just need to be en­forced.

It said it is un­for­tu­nate that some road vi­o­la­tions are treated dif­fer­ently on a case-by-case ba­sis in­stead of ap­ply­ing the same penal­ties and pun­ish­ments even­hand­edly no mat­ter who is in­volved.

In April, Trans­port Min­is­ter Dipuo Peters an­nounced that in­ves­ti­ga­tions into sev­eral ma­jor crashes would be un­der­taken by her depart­ment and the RTMC, in part with a view to im­prov­ing polic­ing on roads.

The AA awaits the out­comes of th­ese in­ves­ti­ga­tions with keen in­ter­est, and how th­ese will trans­late into spe­cific polic­ing in­ter­ven­tions to re­duce road deaths in South Africa.

“There needs to be a strong mes­sage across South Africa to all road users: the po­lice will act if you drive in a man­ner that en­dan­gers other road users, and there will be se­vere con­se­quences for your ac­tions. While this ap­proach may not im­me­di­ately solve the long-term prob­lems in­her­ent on our rods, we be­lieve it is a nec­es­sary first step to sav­ing lives,” the AA con­cluded.

— Sup­plied.

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