#SeeAndBeSeen during notoriously dangerous and wet winter period

By Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works, and Kenny Africa, Provincial Traffic Chief:

As the seasons change and winter settles in, so too do the characteristically wet and dangerous road conditions. Over this time, we will see; decreased visibility; increased traffic volumes over long weekends and the upcoming school holidays; and intensified operations by our provincial and municipal traffic law enforcement agencies. As we launch our operational plan today, we remain confident that, with the help and partnership of all road users in the Western Cape, we will be able to improve safe travel on our roads, as well as encourage increased compliance with all road rules.

Our Winter Traffic Law Enforcement Operational Plan will span 1st June 2015 to 31st August 2015, and will be supported by Safely Home’s #SeeAndBeSeen road safety campaign, which aims to increase awareness around visibility, particularly the visibility of pedestrians. The campaign is live on the Freeway Management System (FMS) boards, and will include radio advertisements in English, isiXhosa, and Afrikaans, aired on Good Hope FM, Umhlobo Wenene FM, and KFM. The advertisements carry the message, “If you’re not seen on the road, you won’t see a future”. The advertisements will be aired from Thursday 11 June 2015, till the end of the month, with information available on www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za and on Twitter @WCGSafelyHome under the #SeeAndBeSeen hashtag. Inadequate visibility on the road increases the risk of a crash for all road users, crashes that either seriously injure or kill.

Winter Fatality Statistics

Our efforts, in previous years over this period, have yielded positive results. More and more lives are being saved. However, the deaths remain unacceptably high and on the rise, necessitating focussed interventions in areas where we know road users are most vulnerable. The lowest fatalities over this period were experienced in 2012, with 293 fatalities over the 92 day period (averaging at 3 deaths per day). Pedestrians remain the leading class of fatality over this period. Of the 344 deaths during last year (2014) over this three month period, 164 (48%) were pedestrians, and 70 (20%) were passengers.

MONTHLY FIGURES – Winter Period  
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
June 147 122 122 102 107 105 109
July 160 131 128 103 96 111 111
August 133 117 108 111 90 101 124
Total 440 370 358 316 293 317 344

Statistics show that the number of road deaths is on the rise, coupled with increased traffic volumes and deteriorating weather conditions. There is no doubt that our concerted efforts will make a difference on our roads, as we have seen in the past, and that attitudes are changing with drivers and other road users beginning to exercise the necessary caution and responsibility when taking to the roads.

Focus Areas

During this three month winter period, we will also be partnering with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Municipal Traffic Authorities; The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), SANRAL, and the RTMC; as well as our Provincial departments of Community Safety, Health, Agriculture and Education. Together, our collective efforts will be focussed on:

 

  • Driver fitness
  • Vehicle fitness
  • Safety and compliance
  • Seatbelt compliance
  • Alcohol and fatigue management
  • Visibility and moving violations
  • Dangerous road user behaviour
  • Load management
  • Safety awareness
  • Transportation of illegal substances

The operational plan will consist of K78 roadblocks, vehicle check points, alcohol blitzes, and operations focussing on fatigue, speed, learner transport, public transport, and pedestrian safety. All of these will amount to close to 900 operations over the three month period.

Western Cape Winter “Hotspot” Locations

The following locations have been identified as hazardous locations for the incidents of pedestrian injuries and death, excessive speeding, poor visibility, and bad driver behaviour where there are high levels of moving violations:

  1. N1 Durban Road to Klapmuts – Pedestrian safety
  2. N2 Borchards Quarry to Mew way – Pedestrian safety
  3. N7 Du Noon – Pedestrian safety
  4. R60 Worcester to Robertson – Pedestrian safety and excessive speed
  5. N2  Mossel Bay to George – Pedestrian safety and excessive speed
  6. N2 George to Wilderness – Kaaimanspass – poor weather conditions
  7. N2  Grabouw to Botriver – Pedestrian safety and driver behaviour
  8. N1 Leeu Gamka – Pedestrian safety and excessive speed
  9. R300 – Driver behaviour and moving violations

Enforcement efforts will be focussed on these areas, and complemented by activities at our successful Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement network which already covers 452kms of the province’s most dangerous roads; R61 from Beaufort West to Aberdeen, N1 from Touwsrivier to Three Sisters, R27 West Coast, and the N1 from Beaufort West to Laingsburg, and the recent expansions along parts of the N2 (Sir Lowry’s Pass).

Winter 2014 Enforcement Outcomes

Previous Winter Operational Plans have informed our current approach to improving safety on our roads. We have drawn from past experiences and continue to be innovative in the ways in which we tackle dangerous and reckless road user behaviour, particular at times when road users are most vulnerable. Over the same period last year (1 June 2014 – 31 August 2014), our Provincial Traffic Authorities:

  • Conducted a total of 377 K78/Vehicle Check Point roadblocks,
  • Conducted 383 speed enforcement operations,
  • Stopped 438 474 vehicles in total,
  • Checked a total of 118 846 vehicles at various roadblocks and vehicle checkpoints,
  • Screened 52 769 drivers for alcohol,
  • Screened 161 438 vehicles for overloading in 863 overload control operations,
  • Impounded 68 public transport vehicles in 12 public transport operations,

Our fatigue management initiative continues to yield positive results through its focus on long distance public transport as well as private vehicles travelling long distances. Since the start of the project on 22nd December 2011 on the N1 between Aberdeen, Beaufort West and Laingsburg, we have stopped thousands of both public and private transport vehicles between the hours of 20:00 – 06:00 during operations, emphasising the need to rest during long trips on the road, so as to avoid the risk of a serious collision as a result of fatigue.

Conclusion

We will be adopting a “no-nonsense” enforcement approach to this period, as we do during the busy Festive/Holiday and Easter periods. Road users must ensure that they are safe and exercise extreme caution during this time. They must refrain from dangerous behaviour such as drinking and driving; speeding, especially in wet and slippery road surfaces with decreased visibility; driving long distances without taking the necessary rest periods; not wearing a seatbelt; and not being visible while walking on roads. We encourage all road users to heed the very important road safety messages that they will hear on the radio and see at various FMS boards. Let us all continue to work together to ensure that we get Safely Home.

Drivers and other road users are also encouraged to call the Emergency Traffic Control Centre (021) 812 4581 to report bad driving, or alternatively report the incident on our Safely Home Reporter at http://www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za/reporter