A big job ahead
Our new minister of transport has made some staunch statements about what needs to be done to fix the deplorable situation on our roads. But can she actually do it?
Dipuo Peters, the new minister of transport for South Africa, has made some good, positive media announcements on what she intends to do to reduce the unacceptable carnage on our roads. But will she succeed in implementing these changes?
I sincerely hope that she does, but in my opinion it is going to be a difficult task. This will be mainly due to the bribery and corruption that we witness daily in all spheres of government, municipal and policing functions.
It is also my view that, to succeed in reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents, we do not need to amend or introduce many new road traffic regulations. What needs to be done is to enforce the existing regulations and stamp out the bribery and corruption.
Peters has announced that she intends to reduce the alcohol limit. I support this suggestion, but again, if we were able to enforce the current regulation regarding the alcohol limit on drinking and driving, we would immediately reduce the vehicle accident rate. How often have we seen drivers who were arrested for drunken driving walking away without prosecution due to police bungling and corruption?
I also agree with the minister’s intention to change the regulation regarding first-time vehicle driver applicants having to gain two years of driving experience before they are issued with a permanent driving licence. This suggested amendment would be especially applicable to applicants applying for a truck licence. As a licensed heavy-vehicle driver, with many years of experience, I can clearly see the merit in a learner driver gaining two years of experience before being allowed to drive and professionally handle a heavy-duty vehicle in a safe manner.
Driving heavy-duty trucks and buses beyond the driver’s physical ability – in other words driving non-stop for long periods – remains a major problem and is the cause of many truck and bus accidents. I would urge the minister to introduce maximum driving hours for truck and bus drivers as soon as possible, if she is serious about her intention to reduce the accidents on our roads.
The minister has stated that the 18 000 traffic officers in South Africa, are not sufficient to handle the 10 million vehicles that use our roads. But this is not her only problem with regard to traffic officers … Many have very little knowledge about brakes and other critical safety items that need to be checked when heavy-duty trucks and buses are stopped for roadside inspection.
FOCUS, together with many of the professional truck and bus operators, is very concerned about the high accident rate involving trucks and buses in the country and wishes the minister and her team every success in achieving her goal of halving the estimated 14 000 fatalities in the next seven years.
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.