Source: The Department of Transport
Title: SA: Ndebele: Address by the Minister of Transport, at the launch of the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020”, Johannesburg
In 1997 in KwaZulu-Natal, we held a month-long road safety campaign known as "Siyabakhumbula - We Remember Them". As fate will have it, as we closed the campaign, we were awoken in the early hours of the morning on 31 August 1997 and informed that Princess Diana was killed in a car crash.
Today, as we launch the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, Sabc senior journalist Kgomotso Sebetso lies unburied after a fatal road crash.
This Decade of Action for Road Safety is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities.
By all accounts, the death of approximately 1.3 million people every year on the world's roads is fit to be described as an epidemic. By all accounts the death of some 14 000 people every year, the death of at least 1 000 people every month, the death of no less than 40 people every day on South Africa's roads must be described as an epidemic. Alone we might not be strong enough, but we now stand together with the world to declare that road deaths can be stopped. It is all in our hands.
Last month, we joined the international community in London for the launch of the Make Roads Safe Time for Action report of the Commission for Global Safety and the launch of the Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholarship. We used the occasion to remind the world that while it is the living who close the eyes of the dead, it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living.
Today, we say this call must reverberate throughout the length and breadth of our beautiful country: in our homes, in our workplaces, in our institutions of education, in hospitals, in places of worship and everywhere! Most importantly, this call to end road deaths must be heard on the country's streets, freeways, avenues and by-ways.
MANDELA AND THE UN DECADE OF ACTION
Ladies and Gentlemen only last month, on April 27, we commemorated 17 years since the demise of apartheid and the ushering in of a new democratic order. As we commemorated Freedom Day, we recalled the historic day South Africa went to the polls for the first time as a united and free nation.
Yesterday, 10 May 2011, was also a historic day in our country: we celebrated the occasion on which our founding President Mr. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated to the highest office in the land, 17 years ago. As a nation, we have woven the tapestry of our post-apartheid story around Mandela's trials and tribulations.
As a nation, we now see many areas of our lives through the mirror that is Nelson Mandela. In 1969, when Nelson Mandela was on life imprisonment on Robben Island, he received news that his eldest son, Thembekile, had been killed in a road accident. To add to the pain and loss, he was not allowed, as a prisoner on life sentence, to attend the funeral of his own son.
Many years later, as a retired President, Mr. Mandela was to experience the same loss again when, as South Africa celebrated the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, his great-grand-daughter Zenani died tragically in a road accident. Writing about the loss of his son in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Mr. Mandela expresses the feelings of many today who have lost loved ones in road carnage when he says and I quote:
"I do not have words to express the sorrow, or the loss I felt. It left a hole in my heart that can never be filled".
THE ZENANI MANDELA ROAD SAFETY SCHOLARSHIP
It was with that sense of pain and irreplaceable loss that in London we joined members of the Mandela family, represented by Zindzi and her daughter Zoleka, to launch the Zenani Mandela Scholarship for Road Safety. The scholarship will contribute to the UN Decade of Action and will also be a key part of Mandela Day.
Launching the Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholarship, Zoleka Mandela, the late Zenani's mother said: "A crash robbed me of my daughter, a beautiful, bright 13-year-old who was full of energy and hope for the future. I will never recover from this, nor will my family..
My heart is already broken, but what makes this even worse is that so often road accidents are preventable. We must all support the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. It is our duty to end the suffering".
The Zenani Mandela Scholarship for Road Safety demonstrated our readiness to act together towards assured victory. The scholarship will help young South African academics tackle this growing epidemic of death and injury on our roads. This initiative will also be included in the global Mandela Day celebrations this year and in years to come.
Road deaths have indeed, like the global icon that is Mandela, now become a global phenomenon. The struggle to end road deaths has now become a matter for international solidarity.
BUILDING A GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR ROAD SAFETY
Speaking on the importance of the Decade of Action recently, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said and I quote: "Over a million people die every year on the world's roads, and fifty million more are injured. Road crashes are the number one killer of young people worldwide. The human cost is profound - unimaginable suffering and grief.
"The economic cost is a staggering 100 billion US dollars a year in developing countries alone. These are grim statistics. But the most important fact offers hope: we know how to prevent such deaths and injuries.
Mr Ban Ki Moon says further: "The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety is our chance to save lives: each of us has a role to play in preventing deaths and injuries on the road. Let us all work together to make sure the world's roads are safe. If we lead by example we can save millions and millions of lives. This is what the United Nations is working very hard for - a safer world for all." End quote.
In heeding this call, on 2 March 2010, governments around the world took the historic decision to increase action to address road safety over the next ten years. The UN General Assembly resolution (A/64/255), proclaiming a Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, was tabled by the Government of the Russian Federation and co-sponsored by more than 90 countries.
Through the Decade of Action, Member States, with the support of the international community, commit to actions in areas such as developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors such as:
· limiting speed;
· reducing drunk-driving; and
· increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets.
Efforts will also be undertaken to improve emergency trauma care, upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, promote road safety education and enhance road safety management generally.
v This initiative comes on the heels of the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, which we attended and addressed, hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation in November 2009.
v The "Moscow Declaration" issued by ministers and senior officials from 150 countries during that gathering, underlines the importance of protecting all road users, in particular those who are most vulnerable such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
v On 8 July 2009, we addressed the "Make Roads Safe Africa 2009" conference in Dar es Salaam in the Republic of Tanzania. Hundreds of delegates from different parts of the world attended the conference, which was hosted by the Make Roads Safe Campaign, the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, under the theme, "Call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety in Africa."
ROAD DEATHS IN AFRICA
· In countries in Africa, up to half of all hospital surgical beds are occupied by patients injured on roads.
· In others, deaths from road traffic crashes come second only to HIV/AIDS for males aged 15 to 44 years.
· Africa has the highest road injury fatality rate of all World Health Organisation regions, at 28.3 per 100 000 population.
· In addition to the health impacts, traffic crashes come at a high cost to African countries.
These deaths are a massive burden on our society:
· In 2002, traffic crashes cost Uganda and Malawi an estimated 2.3% and 5%, respectively, of their gross domestic product.
· In the 1990s, they were estimated to cost Cote d'Ivoire 1% of the country's GDP every year.
· In Kenya, 75% of all traffic crash deaths involve economically-active adults, leaving behind vulnerable and dependent families.
· In South Africa, approximately 14 000 people are killed every year, 1 000 every month, 250 per week and 40 every day, costing at least R60 billion per annum.
SOUTH AFRICA'S RESPONSE TO THE EPIDEMIC
Let us express our gratitude to the UN for its efforts to place road safety on the international agenda, and its role in supporting the implementation of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
Today, on behalf of the government of South Africa, we offer our full support for the Decade of Action. We have devised an engaging and multi-pronged programme involving all of society which seeks to reduce road deaths including the following:
Ø Finalisation and implementation of South Africa's National Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-2020, in consultation with government, business and civil society. The strategy focuses on better utilization of human and financial resources across spheres of government to address road deaths.
Ø Each province, each district municipality and each local municipality must report every month on the number of road accidents occurring in their area, what the causal factors are and how these are being addressed.
Ø The new National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP) commenced as of 1 October 2010, whereby we committed that no less than one million vehicles and drivers will be stopped and checked every month. This marked the start of a new major law enforcement drive in South Africa.
Ø Over the past six months (from 1 October 2010 to 30 April 2011), almost 9 million (8,828,004) vehicles and drivers have been checked, 3,5 million (3,550,768) fines issued for various traffic offences, 13,877 drunk drivers arrested and 34,467 un-roadworthy vehicles discontinued from use.
Ø As of May 2011, no less than 10 000 drivers will be screened every month for drinking and driving.
Ø On 15 April 2011, Traffic Officers who form part of South Africa's first National Traffic Intervention Unit commenced duty. This unit will be deployed to high accident frequency locations and traffic hotspots across the country.
Ø As from last year, we are meeting with Traffic Chiefs and Licensing Officials in order to renew dedication, commitment and morale.
Ø We have also made amendments to the national Road Traffic Act. In addition to drinking and driving and reckless and/or negligent driving, as of 20 November 2010 driving over the prescribed speed by more than 30km/h within an urban area and more than 40km/h outside an urban area may result in the suspension or cancellation of your driving licence. In the case of a first offence, for a period of at least six months; a second offence, for at least five years; or a third or subsequent offence, for at least ten years.
Ø In due course, we will announce the date for the national roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act and the Points Demerit System. The Department of Transport published a draft amendment to the AARTO Regulations in the Government Gazette on 15 April 2011 for comments. We are currently still busy with consultation, and do not want to rush the consultation process. As part of consultation, we will also host an AARTO Summit.
Ø In this regard, we want to remind motorists that AARTO is really more for the benefit of road users. In terms of the current National Road Traffic Act, driving licences may be suspended and/or cancelled for a single offence resulting in a criminal record. To date, numerous driving licences have been suspended and/or cancelled and several motorists have criminal records for traffic offences. But with AARTO, motorists will be in a better position in that your licence may only be suspended and/or cancelled once all your points have expired and since this is an administrative process, this will not necessarily result in a criminal record.
Ø The Department of Transport is currently in discussions regarding proposals calling for a total ban on consuming alcohol whilst driving and/or lowering the current legal alcohol limit, day time running lights and compulsory periodic vehicle testing.
Ø We are also strengthening partnerships within government, particularly between the Departments of Transport, Health, Social Development, Education and Police. Road crashes place an unnecessary strain on hospitals and child support grants.
Ø Improving our data capturing and reporting on road fatalities and injuries.
Ø The South African Police, Division: Visible Policing has developed a 10-year Road Crime Crash Combating Strategy for the Make Roads Safe Campaign. It comprises 5 Strategic Functional Areas, namely High-visibility Patrols; Intelligent Road Policing; Improve Service Delivery: SAPS Responsibilities: Attendance, Crime Scene Investigation, and Recording of Road Crime Crashes and Non-serious Crashes; Road Safety within the SAPS; and Road Safety Collaboration.
Ø We are embarking on a massive education and communication campaign on road safety.
Ø We are making progress towards ensuring that road safety education forms part of the life skills curriculum at schools, towards ensuring that every Grade 11 learner will have a learner's licence and every 18-year-old a driving licence.
Ø We are working on a programme to encourage youth from disadvantaged communities to obtain their driving licences, by obtaining private-sector sponsorship for the payment of their driving tuition. These youth will pay for their learners and driving licence tests, but government will assist towards obtaining sponsorship for the payment of their driving lessons. We are already working with Universities on this programme. We need a new crop of drivers in South Africa and improved driver training is critical. As part of our contribution to improving the skills base in the country, we want to ensure more new drivers every year.
Ø This year we will also be hosting a Driving School Summit, in order to ensure that our Driving Schools are better regulated and produce well-educated and trained drivers. We currently have drivers in South Africa who cannot drive and pose a real threat and danger to road users.
Ø We will soon announce details on the provision of a more secure, tamper-proof driving licence card.
Ø It is well-known that our national road network is world-class. However, for the first time this year, we launched a massive job creation drive through the R22bn
Ø S'hamba Sonke - Moving Together roads infrastructure upgrade and maintenance programme in Durban on 18 April.
Ø S'hamba Sonke, targeting the secondary road network and repair of potholes, includes the beautification of our roads which see clusters of flowers and shrubs being planted along the road network. We want to ensure that the road environment contributes towards enjoyable, relaxing, calm and stress-free driving.
Ø South Africa will be hosting the SADC Ministers of Transport conference in October 2011, where the SADC Plan for the Decade of Action will be discussed. We have started cooperating with SADC countries in the harmonization of our traffic information system, eNaTIS. Namibia and Lesotho are already using the system and other countries will be joining soon.
PARTNERING FOR SAFER ROADS
The Department of Transport wants to form solid partnerships with organised labour, business, the religious community, civil society as well as other formations to end the carnage on our roads. To this end, efforts by various individuals and organisations in South Africa to reduce road deaths must be commended.
v The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) must be commended for their Operation Hlokomela, through which the taxi industry leadership themselves are monitoring their drivers and operators to ensure they adhere to road rules;
v Ladies and Gentlemen, I must state that I am proud to have witnessed - in the years I have been in government both as MEC, Premier and now as national minister - the growth and maturity of the taxi industry under the guardianship of SANTACO, particularly the foresight to engage in an important and meaningful campaign such as HLOKOMELA;
v We are making major strides together with SANTACO to ensure safer roads, and I trust that Mr. Mthembu and his Hlokomela team from SANTACO will keep the momentum and continue to work with us in ensuring that the Decade 2011 to 2020 is memorable for South Africans as far as road safety is concerned;
v The establishment of Alcohol Evidence Centres across the country in partnership with The South African Breweries Limited;
v The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the transport industry for their dedication and commitment towards voluntary implementation of the Road Transport Management System (RTMS) to reduce road deaths and the deteriorating condition of roads;
v The Free Safety Campaign by the Retail Motor Industry in collaboration with the National Vehicle Testing Station;
v Efforts by the Automobile Association (AA);
v Pick & Pay;
v South Africans Against Drunk Driving;
v LeadSA road safety initiatives;
v Advocate Johan Jonck and the Arrive Alive website;
v The various Bikers formations;
v The media;
v Road safety programmes and initiatives by other individuals and organisations; and
v Friends of the Decade including the private sector, religious community and all members of society.
COMMUNITY-DRIVEN ROAD SAFETY COUNCILS
Road Safety is not what you do to a community; road safety is what you do with a community.
Therefore, community-driven road safety through Community Road Safety Councils must become the primary driving force of this Decade of Action in South Africa.
We have already embarked on large-scale mobilization of communities through Community Road Safety Councils, advocating "Road Safety is Everybody's Responsibility." Council members include traditional leaders, religious leaders, the private sector, schools, government departments as well as civil society. These councils must not be exclusive, but inclusive.
Racism did something to our psyche where Black life was considered cheap, and we looked down upon ourselves. If you look down upon yourselves and think Black lives are cheap, we are not going to allow that any longer.
As government, we want to empower communities to become self-liberating through Road Safety Councils. Every road safety issue in a community, whether a faulty robot or a pothole in Boksburg, Soweto or Nongoma, must be the business of the Road Safety Council. Members of the community must know their Road Safety Council, which should be their first point of call regarding any road safety matter.
These Councils must ensure that the message of road safety is spread everywhere - mosques, temples, churches, schools, business.
Our yard-stick during this Decade is going to be Road Safety Councils.
It is the Road Safety Councils who must ask why are people dying on our roads and what programmes and action plans do we have to address this? We need measurable programmes and not body counts.
Whose Decade of Action is this? This is OUR Decade of Action.
What is this Decade of Action about and what are you going to do? This Decade is about Community Road Safety Councils - join one and become part of the solution.
There is a movement against crime, a movement against HIV and AIDS; we now need a movement against road deaths. The families of those killed in road crashes, the injured, the taxi industry, the religious community - all of us must ensure that this never happens to others.
Community Road Safety Councils must lead this Decade of Action and make a difference.
To conclude, South Africa fully supports the Make Roads Safe campaign as well as the Decade of Action for Road Safety to reduce the projected increase in road deaths.
Let us strengthen this global movement through real action against road deaths, and save millions of lives and billions of rands and dollars. But, we must issue this call: Let us act now!
It is the living who close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living. Working together, we can stop this epidemic of deaths and injuries on our roads.