Traffic nightmare as Easter exodus begins
Johannesburg - Safety on the roads is a collective responsibility - and it cannot be left to traffic officials alone.
This was the message from authorities on Wednesday yesterday as they appealed for patience and caution on the roads during this Easter weekend. Traffic volumes were expected to increase rapidly on the roads on Thursday as thousands of people leave Gauteng for their holiday destinations in other provinces.
Transport minister Dipuo Peters urged motorists to make safety their priority.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who travel on the state’s vast road network,” she said on Wednesday.
“We have instructed our traffic officers to be on high alert, to show no mercy and adopt zero tolerance to traffic violations over the Easter break. Far too many of our people have died needlessly on our roads due to the negligent and arrogant behaviour of a few people who chose not to obey the rules of the road.”
Officials in Johanneasburg and Ekurhuleni held their safety operations for the Easter weekend. Johannesburg’s mayoral committee member for public safety, Sello Lemao, said their Easter road safety operation, Ke Molao, had proved that 73.6 percent of traffic accidents resulted from human error, with only 14.1 percent caused by vehicle defects and 12.3 percent by environmental factors such as road conditions.
“Unless motorists change their behaviour, no matter how many resources we try to invest in reducing fatalities, things will not change. Motorists have to start abiding by the rules of the road if fatalities are going to drop,” he said.
While the road death toll has been decreasing in recent years, authorities warned people to be cautious on the road.
A total of 333 people died on the roads over Easter 2015, compared to 229 the previous year, according to the statistics released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation. Alcohol and speeding remain major factors in road accidents.
Lemao said Johannesburg Metro Police Department officers would be on standby with roadblocks and stop-and-searches conducted throughout the long weekend. Officers will be strategically positioned at hotspots in the city on a 24-hour basis. The hotspots identified are the N1 Midrand, N3 south Linksfield and N1 western bypass to the William Nicol and Rivonia off-ramps.
“Behavioural changes have to happen in motorists to bring fatalities down,” he said.
JMPD deputy director of operations Stephen Mosimane said many campaigns would involve Gauteng traffic and the SAPS. They would also enforce by-laws, which also lead to traffic violations such as drinking in public and then driving.
“We are adopting a minus zero approach to road infringements this year. We will prosecute those who endanger the lives of others on the roads. We will be testing for alcohol and roadworthiness, among others, and will be searching vehicles for drugs and illegal weapons.
“This Easter must be a safe one. We need the fines increased to have teeth, to bring about change. The fines are currently too low to deter bad behaviour,” Mosimane said.
On average, the JMPD arrests about 500 drunk motorists over a weekend, he noted.
The Star, ANA