Compiled Indhrannie Pillay
Kwa Zulu Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Hamilton Cele, launched the province's Easter Road Safety Campaign on 3 April 2007 at the Curries Fountain sports ground in Durban. Cele said, “2007 has been declared the year of the pedestrian and will focus on bringing about an awareness of road safety to pedestrians.” According to Cele, pedestrians contribute to 40% of road fatalities.
“While the figure of road accidents are decreasing, the figure of pedestrian accidents is on the increase. The cause of this is a basic lack of understanding of road safety and ignoring the rules of the road,” Cele said.
In an attempt to create awareness of road safety among pedestrians, the department has embarked on a programme “Walk Alert KZN” to educate adults, as most pedestrian accidents are caused by people between the ages of 20-40 years.
Other pedestrian incidents that are a threat to road safety is not knowing when or where to cross the road, wearing dark clothes at night which makes visibility to drivers difficult and drunken pedestrians. Cele said “We often focus on people who drink and drive but this year we want to highlight the dangers of drinking and walking.” “Pedestrians under the influence of alcohol can cause terrible road fatalities. These people ignore the rules of the road, wonder onto the road and cause an obstruction to drivers and other road users. They put both themselves and other road users in unnecessary danger,” added Cele.
In his address, Cele reiterated the province's zero tolerance stance on traffic offenders. “No mercy will be shown to any traffic offenders. All law enforcement agents will be working in full force to ensure 100% compliance with the traffic laws and road safety regulations,” he said. The department has embarked on visible policing, especially on hazardous and busy roads.
Cele said that there will be daily road-blocks and all drivers stopped will undergo an alcohol screen test. “Speed traps and speed cameras will be in operation 24 hours a day and unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed drivers will meet with the full force of the law,” added Cele.
Rajen Chinaboo Spokesperson for the KZN Department of Transport said, “We have undertaken many projects to ensure road safety especially during this Easter period.” Chinaboo said “We appeal to the public to play their role in obeying the rules of the road at all times.” He added that there will be free vehicle testing to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy at five testing centres in the province. Vehicles can be tested at Kokstad, Empangeni, Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith and Park Rynie.
“Do not drink and drive, do not drink and walk, do not speed, do not overload, do not drive unroadworthy vehicles, buckle up, wear visible clothing and do not cross on free-ways,” were the MEC's advise to the people of the province and its visitors.
Meanwhile, Colin Govender of the KZN Department of Transport said, “Driver irresponsibility, not adhering to the rules of the road and pedestrians not adhering to their personal safety have been the cause of majority of accidents during the Easter period.”
In light of the upcoming long weekend Govender said, “We lost several lives during this first long weekend and we do not want a repeat of this. We are appealing to road users to take responsibility for their lives and be responsible on the roads.”