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Policing and the state of our roads


A FEW weeks ago we heard about the horrific accident on the N12, which left four people dead and a serious number of vehicles damaged due to a truck ploughing onto a congested highway.

The responses have been vast and the criticism valid. The official response was that the brakes of the truck failed, leaving the driver powerless to stop his truck bulldozing through the traffic.

It’s the second huge truck accident in a year. But since hearing about that massive collision on the 14th of October 2014, I’ve heard about various accidents on the N14, another accident on the N12 and one on the R24. The result is always the same. The innocent lose their lives, while the guilty truck driver usually leaves the scene unscathed because he’s housed behind the wheel of a huge horse and carriage.

There’s certainly a fundamental problem with the way we drive on our roads. I know there’s a call for trucks to be pulled from our streets during peak-hour traffic and I have to agree. Mostly because these truck drivers hog the highways, driving next to each other up hills, trying to overtake one another and don’t follow the 100km/h speed limit. I realise trucks are the backbone of our economy, transporting massive amounts of goods. But we need a massive shake-up in road safety. The Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, said this as well, telling us that motorists need to be more aware out there. Our roads have become a killing ground, where innocent people lose their lives all because we neglect the laws and the rules of the road.

Case in point… I was driving home from work last week and this woman overtook me at some speed, while chatting on her phone. Oblivious to the fact that her turn was approaching, she swerved in front of me and cut across two lanes to make her left turn before she missed it. No indicators were used, at all! If she wants to endanger herself that’s fine, however, putting other motorists at risk is a massive problem.

The main factors that have come under the spotlight are the lack of trained drivers. We highlighted the problems with the licensing of new drivers and how the test doesn’t imitate real-life conditions. On top of that, many road users are now distracted by technologies while driving, mostly their cell phones. Compounding the problem is the severe lack of visible policing.

The old adage rings true: “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Think about how cautiously you drive when a police officer is behind you or close to you, in traffic. You make sure your seatbelt’s fastened and that that cell phone is nowhere to be seen.

On our roads, we need to see our boys in blue. They need to be at the worst traffic intersections in the mornings and should be patrolling during the day. This will surely prevent those ignorant taxi drivers forcing their way down the yellow lane, or speedily flying past you while on their phones. Why? Because they know they’re being watched and policed.

According to the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, the expenditure on posting fines is R9.5 million a month, of which they collect around R5.2 million. Interestingly, Joburg budgeted for R464.3 million a year in income from fines for the 2014/15 budget. That works out to R38.7 million a month.

With such a focus on making money, it’s no wonder there are so many speed cameras positioned all over Jo’burg. My issue with these cameras is, they do very little or nothing, in making our roads safer.

So you get a fine in the mail - or do you? The recent postal strike would mean that all the fines posted have not reached their destinations.

You’re not exactly sure where you were supposedly speeding and you can’t remember what you were doing on that date.  Does this make you a safer road user? No! Had you been pulled over at a roadblock, or caught speeding by an officer, you might consider changing the way you drive.

More needs to be done by officials to make our roads safer. Time and time again people have called for visible policing. Corruption aside, seeing our boys in blue on our roads will help to make the roads safer for all.  We want to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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