The IFP says it is high time that a Commission of Inquiry should be established to scrutinise the government’s approach to road safety. This following yet another horror accident that resulted in 14 fatalities, after two trucks and a minibus taxi collided on the N3 highway near Estcourt on Monday night.
Once again, the IFP reiterates its call for a Commission of Inquiry to be established.
The IFP believes that a Commission should investigate measures for curbing road accidents and reducing the severity of road carnage. This Commission must investigate the efficacy of government’s approach to road safety, how the approach could be improved and what further action could be taken to minimise the severity and high rate of accidents.
The IFP calls on government to stand up and deal decisively with road accidents. Responsibility for road safety lies with government; it should set a clear and tangible target, working towards a ‘vision zero’ approach, whereby every road death and injury can and must be prevented. Government must take responsibility for creating a safe road use culture, including the provision of additional funding for awareness campaigns. One of the most pervasive and damaging misconceptions that government needs to tackle is the mislabelling of road crashes as ‘accidents’. Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps, and the use of terminology must be adjusted accordingly. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.
Further, the IFP is concerned about road accidents involving trucks. Every day we see trucks speeding, changing lanes recklessly or hogging the lanes. That is why truck accidents are always in the news. Hardly a week goes by without hearing or reading about another truck crashing into the rear of a slow-moving line of cars on our highways or jack-knifing off a highway. Truck accidents can be reduced when fleet owners teach drivers how to drive more safely and regularly send them to update their skills through training.
The IFP believes that enforcement of speed limits is clearly fundamental in their effectiveness. Detection of and penalties for speeding drivers is needed to deter driving over the speed limit.
Further, there is a need to increase awareness around driver distraction as a road safety issue. Unless countermeasures are taken to limit the adverse effects of driver distraction, it has the potential to escalate into a major road safety problem.
A more pragmatic approach is needed to deal with the issues on our roads. In addition to having more traffic officers on our roads, law enforcement needs to be given the necessary resources to effectively do their job. However, road safety doesn’t only reside with traffic officials; the entire justice system needs to be involved to ensure offenders are made aware that there are punitive consequences for their actions. And, road users must also play their part. Reckless and negligent driving is something every driver can avoid but it seems that too many are shirking their duty to be responsible motorists.
The KZN, MEC of Transport, Hon. Bheki Ntuli, needs to ensure that traffic officers are visible on our roads 24 hours a day. This will assist in restoring law and order on our roads. The ongoing road carnage and alarmingly high rate of fatalities speaks to a dismal approach to road safety, which clearly is not achieving its desired objectives. Road accidents have also become a drain to national resources because of the cost associated with attending to those injured or left dead.
Strong, comprehensive, evidence-based and coordinated road safety strategies, which are regularly reviewed to take into account of changing circumstances, remain as important as ever.
The IFP sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased in the N3 accident.
Hon. Steven Moodley
IFP KZN Spokesperson for Transport
083 253 2277