The Department of Transport has published a list of safety changes it hopes to implement as part of a new ‘draft roads policy‘, which aims to fundamentally improve South Africa’s road systems.
One of the key changes proposed in the policy is the establishment of new ‘zero tolerance zones’ – which aim to clamp down on South Africa’s massive speeding problem.
The country has one of the highest road death rates in the world, with between 11,000 and nearly 15,000 killed annually over the past decade.
To combat this, the department wants to use technology and statistical data to target specific areas for law enforcement.
This includes using available speed data to determine which routes have speeding problems (where the speed limit is exceeded by more than 20% on average), and develop specific speeding programmes for these routes.
Other areas that will get special attention are those with high pedestrian and alcohol-related crashes – especially because pedestrian-related accidents currently account for 40% of all incidents, the report said.
The policy calls for a minimum of two hazardous locations or routes to be identified in each province to be actively monitored – where drivers would be punished as soon as they fail to adhere to any traffic laws.
The policy document suggests that the statistics used to guide these zones should be updated every quarter so that changes can be implemented and new zones can be identified.
The policy document does not make mention of any specific speed limit changes, but reducing limits has been brought up a number of times over the last few years and is standing policy within the department.
The most recent proposal suggests that speed limits be reduced from 60km/h to 40km/h in urban areas, from 100km/h to 80km/h in rural areas and from 120 to 100km/h on freeways running through a residential area.
However, the document does refer to other changes around speeding policy, with plans to introduce a more proactive approach to the issue through the use of Road Safety Audits (RSA).
The department suggests that speed limits on roads should be tested against the operational speeds, and changes to speed limits should involve a multi-disciplinary team of traffic law enforcement personnel, and engineers and other relevant disciplines. These parties should determine and set the speed limits on roads.
The policy document also mentions that enforcement actions on speed limits need a strategic review.
“It should not be done to earn income from a municipality, but should be focused on improving road safety,” the department said.
It is proposed that RSAs should become compulsory on all road projects, and that engineers should be trained to develop experience in these types of audits.