Plans to declare traffic law enforcement an essential service, and thereby enable a 24-hour working schedule for traffic law enforcers, is a positive development to be welcomed by all motorists in South Africa. This is the view of the Automobile Association (AA) which was commenting on the Department of Transport’s budget vote delivered in Parliament yesterday by Minister Joe Maswanganyi.
According to reports, the plans include a two-fold approach to increase the number of law enforcers on public roads and to declare traffic law enforcement an essential service. This will enable the department to ensure the availability of traffic officers on a 24-hour basis, every day of the year.
“This is a hugely positive step and is encouraging in light of the country’s high road fatality statistics. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) statistics, about 55 percent of crashes occur between 6 pm and 6 am, when, traditionally, there has been limited coverage by traffic officials. Having traffic officers on duty during this time may lead to positive results, and we welcome the move as a first step to dealing with the carnage on our roads,” the AA noted.
Apart from more traffic officers, and extended working hours, the Association said it is important for the department to educate drivers on the need for compliance. It noted that without the public understanding the consequences of non-compliance with traffic laws, the current situation of disregarding the laws would continue.
The Association also welcomed the Minister’s remarks that his department would focus on maintaining provincial and national road networks and improving public transport for rail and road commuters. This, the AA said, was especially welcome news given that there are moves to subsidise, in part, this public transport.
“Making public transport more readily available is also relevant in a country where public transport can become more widely used because of the rising costs of personal vehicle ownership. And it will, for instance, make it easier for children to get to and from school without having to rely on unscrupulous operators who use un-roadworthy vehicles, or who drive without having the proper licenses,” the AA concluded.