RMI endorses call for drunk driver imprisonment

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation supports a call by the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, for the introduction of harsher sanctions to combat drunk and negligent driving – including a mandatory prison sentence of at least two years if a motorist is convicted of either offence.

The minister’s call comes in the wake of a 51% increase in the number of fatalities on South Africa’s roads during the Easter long weekend in which 235 people lost their lives in traffic accidents. Half of those who died were passengers in vehicles, while pedestrians accounted for just under 25% of the fatalities.

According to Arrive Alive, up to 12 702 road deaths are reported annually in South Africa. The figure shows that much needs to be done to reduce the number of fatalities, the death count representing only the number of people who lose their lives at the scene of an accident and not those who succumb elsewhere due to their injuries.

The RMI fully supports the United Nations’ Decade of Action for Road Safety campaign, whereby South Africa’s Department of Transport has committed to reduce road deaths by 50% over a 10-year period which ends in 2020.

International studies have found that safety awareness is paramount in reducing the number of road accidents – whether applied to roads, vehicles or road users. Locally, statistics show that 10% of motor vehicle accidents are caused by non-roadworthy vehicles.

According to an assessment by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), contributing factors in fatal crashes include burst, damaged or smooth tyres (36%), faulty brakes (25%), faulty or unsafe steering (24%), or other causes (15%).

Statistics from ENATIS, released in October 2016, show that of the 11 957 075 vehicles registered on the system, only 2 590 736 (21,66%) were required by law to be tested for roadworthiness.

RMI CEO Jakkie Olivier says the organisation supports endeavours by the National Department of Transport to implement a regular vehicle testing regime in this country, the aim being to reduce road deaths.