JOHANNESBURG – The Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters has urged motorists to make safety their number one priority this Easter long weekend.
Easter, which this year coincides with school holidays, will see tens of thousands of South Africans taking to the roads on holiday and religious pilgrimages, and is usually marked by carnage on the country’s roads and a high death toll.
According to authorities, a total of 333 people died on the roads over Easter last year compared to 229 the previous year.
In a statement on Wednesday, Peters referred to the launch of the Easter road safety campaign a week earlier in which she challenged drivers to rethink their attitude to travelling even just a few kilometres over the set limit.
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“The Department of Transport, together with the Road Traffic Safety fraternity and different transport agencies across the country, will once again go out to protect and serve the South African Community, “she said. “Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who travel on the state’s vast road network.
“We have instructed our traffic law enforcement officers to be on high alert, to show no mercy and adopt zero tolerance to traffic law violations during this period. 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.”
She said the Easter road safety campaign included highly visible traffic law enforcement patrols on all known hazardous routes, while there would be roving law enforcement operations in hotspots including built-up areas such as suburbs, townships and villages.
“We will give special attention to private motor vehicles and light delivery vehicles this time around.
“There will be an intense focus on moving violation of traffic regulations by these vehicles and the instructions have been issued to traffic officers to arrest those who drive recklessly, are negligent and use excessive speeds.”
Peters said heavy fines would also be issued for passengers not wearing seatbelts and for not having children on a child restraint.
Mobile testing stations would also be placed at strategic points to test the roadworthiness of vehicles travelling to major destinations during the Easter period.
“We would like to warn public transport operators, and all other motorists that, overloaded and not roadworthy vehicles will not be allowed to proceed to their destinations. Please heed this warning and do not claim that you did not know, as vehicles will be impounded.
“I would like to extend my gratitude to the tenacity of our traffic officers as they often deal with difficult situations on our roads. Against all odds, our traffic officers are able to manage our roads efficiently and effectively.”