A while ago, while driving from the I -Pledge launch in Johannesburg I considered how we could improve traffic enforcement in an attempt to enhance road safety. The acting CEO of the RTMC mentioned that the Hawks will be used to root our corruption in the traffic enforcement sector – and I thought to myself – why not get SARS involved as well? The average South African vehicle owner is much more afraid of a SARS audit than a traffic fine – so why not use this very effective tool?
It is with this in mind that I would like to share an email received with some very insightful suggestions:
Dear Arrive Alive,
Thank you for your continuous campaign to stop the widespread lawlessness on South Africa’s roads. I am a professor specialising partly in transport research and I bounced this idea off against another professor in transport and engineering. This may be out of the blue, but if you study complex systems and read the book “The Tipping Point” where they explain how New York sorted out their problems on their Metro system then you may see some sense in the following proposal.
A few facts first:
1. The degree of corruption in our country is high.
2. Corruption probably goes hand in hand with a general disregard of the law – including road safety.
3. The first thing somebody normally does when he gets a whole lot of money (corrupt of not) is to buy himself a big fast car.
4. For some reason (and I don’t know why) people don’t seemed to be scared of getting fines – they simply break the road laws all the time. Maybe we are too soft – or maybe the “fairness” in the legal system is a nice place to jump through loop-holes.
I think the links between the facts above can help us to move closer to better road behaviour in SA. I would like to propose the following:
1. If somebody breaks ANY road law then his/her name is flagged and passed on to SARS. SARS needs to become a partner in this venture. The person’s name remains with SARS regardless of whether they have paid the fine, litigated, or not 2. Once SARS receives a name of somebody who has broken the law on the roads – the person should be flagged as a possible perpetrator in other parts of his/her life as well. Therefore, perhaps they are also breaking the Tax laws.
3. SARS should develop a VERY comprehensive on-line internal financial audit system. A person who broke a road law should immediately be summoned by SARS to declare all his incomes and financial affairs. If the owner of the vehicle was not the driver, then that person (e.g. the TAXI boss) should also be summoned to declare their income streams. This will make breaking the road laws in South Africa an ownerous business because an internal audit requires time and effort to declare all your affairs. An on-line system could easily make the amount of information manageble from a SARS perspective.
4. Relatively simple electronic cross checking software should be able to detect whether these perpetrators are telling the truth by assessing the value of their vehicles, declared incomes, bank account, etc…
My reasons for this suggestion:
Braking the law in South Africa is systemic and normally when it happens in one place it probably happens in other places as well. A link with SARS may yield significant detection of corruption.
Please read “The Tipping Point” on New York’s graffiti then you will understand the power of interventions like this.
The time, effort (and threat – if you’re a crook) to complete an internal audit will most certainly act as a deterrant to break the road laws – even if you can get out of a fine – or if you have enough money to just simply pay your fines.
I will be happy to engage with this idea further. Maybe it’s a bad idea, but at least now I know that I’ve shared it with somebody who may be able to do something about it.
Thank you and kind regards
Professor Carel Bezuidenhout