By Willem Geldenhuys
WJG LOGISTICS cc & W Geldenhuys Transport
Every year we hear about road safety awareness campaigns and what will be done to stop the carnage on South Africa’s roads. However, every year the situation goes from bad to worse. Is this because it’s the same people sitting on their own ideas that do not work, or is it because of the lawlessness of the average driver getting worse every year?
Over the past couple of months, I have been on the road a lot trying to get a general perspective of where the biggest concerns lie via my own observations, social media, the media and reports given to me. My conclusion is that blame can be laid at the doorstep of all parties concerned, although the absolute lawlessness and aggressive driving of taxi drivers must be the one outstanding concern to everyone. Based on all this, I have certain recommendations I would like to make.
I think the time has arrived that politics must be kept out of road safety; visible policing must be implemented and not only talked about; stronger messages must be sent by the law to certain offenders of traffic laws; and the involvement of all industries in promoting and assisting in road safety must be embarked on.
Visible policing is of big concern to me. Although it is a proven fact that there are not enough traffic officers to cover the thousands of Thank you so much, kilometres of roads in South Africa, it is of bigger concern that one will drive for 200 km without seeing one traffic officer. Then, all of a sudden, you will find four or five – or even more – cars at one assembly point. Whether this is for general inspection of vehicles or just a nice get-together of colleagues remains a mystery.
I think the time has arrived for traffic vehicles to be monitored by senior staff for them to be spread over certain distances – and also to be more active during night time. One of my observations was how many times different offenders – or unroadworthy vehicles – passed traffic officers. I stopped a few times at traffic officers to bring this kind of thing to their attention and in 80% of the cases, I got that look of “who are you to tell us”.
I personally do not think enough is done by traffic departments to evaluate their officers on a regular basis to see that they are doing what they get paid to do. I have spoken to a few traffic officials who said to me they would leave the force if they got the chance because of the unfair treatment of certain officers against others – and because of other reasons which I won’t get into here. This, however, causes a lower degree of work ethics among the force…