Use law to keep death off the road

Pretoria News Weekend - - OPINION -

SOUTH Africans take to the roads in earnest this week­end ahead of the 2018 fes­tive sea­son.

It’s a time for joy, but it’s also a time of trep­i­da­tion for those who have to pick up the pieces.

Thou­sands of law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and emer­gency med­i­cal re­sponse per­son­nel will be out on the roads from this week­end to Christ­mas in 10 days’ time.

They’ll do it at New Year and then into Jan­uary as the en­tire process re­verses and peo­ple re­turn home.

The re­ally un­fair as­pect is that all of this ef­fort won’t make a real dif­fer­ence to the car­nage that will en­sue on our roads.

Fam­i­lies will be split asun­der, at this the most con­vivial time of the year, chil­dren will be or­phaned, par­ents will be left shat­tered, un­able to heal.

To rub salt in the wounds, not all the dead will be the au­thors of their own fate.

Many will fall vic­tims to the self­ish driv­ers who drove drunk, drove when they were tired, drove too fast or drove ve­hi­cles that were patently un­road­wor­thy. They will be the in­no­cents. The great­est tragedy of all will be that no­body had to die – not if peo­ple obeyed the laws that we have. But peo­ple don’t. When they’re caught, many will cyn­i­cally ex­ploit an over­stretched and un­der-re­sourced jus­tice sys­tem to es­cape sanc­tion and this dis­grace­ful cy­cle will con­tinue.

We don’t want new laws, we just want the ones that we have ac­tu­ally ap­plied.

The au­thor­i­ties can start by deny­ing in­stant bail for drunken driv­ers, hold­ing them for the week­end or over the en­tire fes­tive sea­son be­fore bring­ing them be­fore the mag­is­trate on the first avail­able court day.

They can im­pound the ve­hi­cles too and levy puni­tive sums for their re­lease.

Maybe that’s the only way to cut through the ar­ro­gance and make our roads safe – this Christ­mas at least.

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