Road user behaviour key to safety: President Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says roads won’t be safer unless road users change their mindset.

Safer roads do not begin with more police and greater enforcement. Safer roads begins with checking our vehicles and keeping them off the road if they are unroadworthy.

Safer roads begin with understanding that no one owns the road, and that roads are stretches of infrastructure we share as citizens for our common benefit, President Ramaphosa said on Saturday at the launch of Transport Month on the N3 in Heidelburg, Gauteng.

The President said safer roads begin with providing safe and comfortable transport for workers, instead of putting large numbers of people in the back of exposed vehicles.

He said safer roads begin with mutual respect between law enforcement officers and road users.

We all have a right to safety and it is up to each of us to create that safety through our own conduct. It is up to each of us not to drink and drive.

It is through our individual sense of responsibility that all of us will arrive alive, uninjured and without any infringements, fines or judgements against our names, the President said.

South Africa records around 14 000 road deaths a year. As part of the commitment to road safety, government has introduced several measures to change the manner in which road traffic safety issues are addressed.

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act, President Ramaphosa said, is one of the interventions to forge a more effective and efficient link between enforcement and a transparent and fair adjudication process.

The Act promotes responsible behaviour on our roads through the creation of a demerit system, which introduces meaningful consequences for reckless, negligent and inconsiderate conduct.

With this, South Africa is joining a growing number of countries worldwide where the consequences of infringements and offences are felt in the pockets, livelihoods and lives of those who break the law, President Ramaphosa said.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said AARTO will help to enforce the law on the roads.

Arrive Alive

President Ramaphosa also unveiled the revamped and Cabinet-approved Arrive Alive programme of the Department of Transport.

The new programme will place road safety in the national spotlight through a 365 Days Road Safety Action Agenda to transform road user behaviour.

Prior the official launch of Transport Month, President Ramaphosa, accompanied by Mbalula, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Transport Department officials, interacted with traffic officials manning a roadblock.

They also inspected some of the vehicles that were stopped by traffic officers and interacted with passengers who were travelling in taxis and private cars.

A motorist was arrested for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. The vehicle did not have a valid licence disc and the officers also discovered that the vehicle’s engine numbers were tempered with.

For the most part, motorists were happy with officer visibility.

Law enforcement officers should be more visible, as this will reduce road accidents. Motorists disregard the law when they know that there are no law enforcement officers on the road, said Michael Sibiya, who was in a taxi heading to KwaZulu-Natal.

The Road Safety Action Agenda will mainstream road safety interventions through the daily activities of transport authorities, cultivate round-the-clock traffic law enforcement and discourage unsafe road user behaviour.

It is estimated that road accidents cost the economy R166 billion a year.

Source: South African Government News Agency