One simple tool could fix South Africa’s speeding taxi problem

 ·14 Mar 2016
Bad taxi

Researchers from Stellenbosch University have shown that a simple tool can be used to improve the speeding habits of minibus taxis in South Africa.

Taxis are one of the biggest causes of road deaths in South Africa. Fatal road traffic accidents increased by 11% between 1 December 2015 to 11 January 2016 – to 1,387, with minibuses accounting for 10.1% of all accidents.

According to the University of Stellenbosch’s department of electrical and electronic engineering, their studies have shown that an audible warning system is effective in reducing speeding, and improving speed compliance in taxis.

The system is a speed-triggered warning that gives an audible tone when the driver exceeds the set speed limit, letting the driver know he or she has gone over the speed limit.

Senior lecturer, Dr Thinus Booysen, said that the tone had a positive impact when tested on taxi drivers, travelling on the R61 between Beufort West and Aberdeen. The system was tested in a “loud” mode, and at a tone level that could be drowned out by a radio.

“The impact of the loud speed-triggered warning tone on speeding is significant – usually‚ for 72% of the trips the taxis spend over 80% of each trip over the speed limit.”

“With the loud warning tone‚ this figure was reduced to only 20% of trips‚” Booysen said.

The soft tone results were less pronounced, reducing speeding frequency to 70%, the professor said, but it was still an improvement.

The warning tone was set to activate after driving above 110km/h for 10 seconds‚ and that before activation‚ the mean speed of 40% of trips were above 120km/h and 85% above 110km/h.

The speed limit for minibus taxis is 100km/h, but many believe it is 120km/h. Drivers reverted back to typical speeding habits when the tone was deactivated.

The researchers said that, not only would the system lead to reduced speeding (and thus much safer roads), but would also improve fuel efficiency, which would save the drivers money in the long run.

The system could also be implemented in normal cars and other passenger vehicles with the same goal of reducing speed and road accidents, the researchers said.

“We plan to perform further analysis to evaluate the average speed over distance system, and to evaluate other routes, such as the N2 between Somerset West and Cape Town, and other provincial routes,” Booysen said.

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