We are often witness to complaints and criticism towards our traffic officers. We find reports in the media of corruption and bribery and many of our motorists express their antagonism towards traffic officials. I do not intend to defend each and every traffic officer -fact is – each and every profession has its bad apple casting a shadow on all those who are committed to doing their best. We find the bad lawyer, surgeon, policeman and priest – and will most definitely find the corrupt traffic official!
What I would like to do in this blog post is to emphasize why there is a need for greater respect and trust between road users and traffic officers on our roads!
Road deaths affect us all
It does not take much to emphasize the horrific fatal accident data in South Africa. Every day we read about fatal accidents or experience severe traffic congestion caused by accidents on our roads. There is not a single day that we do not have traffic fatalities – on average 35-40 lives are lost daily in road crashes and this is without counting all the seriously injured and permanently disabled!
We can all name a family member, colleague or friend who has passed away in road accidents. The statistician and accident investigators tell us that 85% of these road deaths are caused by human error – and in many instances by lawless behaviour on our roads!
Lawlessness and a disregard for the Rules of the Road are the major threats to safety on our roads. We simply do not display the discipline needed for safety and many consider traffic offences only an offence “if caught”. These offences are far more serious than the occasional speeding violation, and include the blatant disregard for traffic lights and the serious threat of drunk driving.
The sad truth is that our spouses, children and loved ones share the road with and are exposed to these criminals on our roads. Without effective traffic enforcement we can expect reckless endangerment to our loved ones – and we need these offenders to be removed!
We simply have to recognize that traffic officials are essential to do much more than issue speeding tickets – they need implement more road blocks and to clear our roads of un-roadworthy vehicles, remove drunk drivers and suspend the driver licenses of reckless and repeat offenders!
Traffic enforcement should do more than punish traffic offenders
A political leader once made a very important observation. The leader emphasized that traffic enforcement can achieve much more than penalize for a traffic offence as traffic offenders are often also not model citizens in many other areas.
With crimes such as murder, assault, robbery and theft affecting us all – traffic enforcement can make a significant contribution towards reducing these evils as well! By conducting road blocks we can also police offences such as transporting illegal firearms, drug trafficking etc. Effective traffic enforcement is an important tool in crime prevention!
So what are we the road user to do?
We have all heard the saying that if you point a finger – a few more are pointing to You! It is time for us all to ask whether our conduct are that of disciplined and law abiding road users. If we are not transgressing the rules of the road we have little to fear and are less likely to encounter or promote an opportunity for corruption.
By behaving responsibly on our roads and making it clear that we are not to be bribed – we will reduce corruption and traffic enforcement. We can even report corrupt officials and send out a strong message that enough is enough – and we need our officers to enforce the rules of the road. If you are guilty – pay the fine – it is the right thing to do!
We can however also do more! Basic courtesy and a friendly wave or gesture towards our traffic officials can be the recognition and display of respect that could motivate our traffic officials to do that bit extra on our roads!
Road Safety requires cooperation and partnering between traffic enforcement and road users. Only when both partners strive to achieve the same objective will be able to reduce the trauma of road deaths!
Law Abiding Road Users + Effective Traffic Officials & Enforcement = Road Safety