A draft suggestion to modify the statistics - or our behaviour.

 

South Africa has a poor record for road fatalities. Much can be done about it if we focus our resources and energies to solving the problems and not remedy the symptoms’. A completely new approach must be taken. Do not fix or overall the system – design a completely new system. To do that you need the political will, politicians with vision and savvy. This is but a synopsis of the solution. A much larger treatise is needed.

One must call (1) Personal Attitude(PA) and (2) Driving Skill Level (SL) the major contributor to accident statistics. This is a reality that must be accepted as underlying all our statistics. Lack of visible policing, road condition, illegal drivers, un-roadworthy vehicles etc. all contribute, will only take up number thee (3) Third Party, as the reason for motor accidents. In rare cases it is a (4) Random Event that can not be attributed to any party or parties, but due to a convolution of random events.

Eg Road Conditions: While road conditions are sighted as a main reason for accidents, it is attitude, PA, of the driver and his skill level, SL, that overtakes the limits of the road. Most roads are adequately marked and signposted – the instructions must just be followed. If the surface of a road or a pothole in a road is not fixed, and properly indicated and detoured, it is clearly a matter for the authorities to deal with. The Third Party (3) is clearly responsible.

An analysis of the types and severity of vehicle accidents and fatalities is not further dealt with in this document. It is sufficient to just identify these four causes of accidents here.

 

The following is a brief list of the changes to be address. All the detail are not given and all the possibilities explored here. It is by no means an exhausted list. It just gives the main elements :

Vehicle Law Enforcing

Unify and privatise aspects of the Law Enforcement Agency dealing with monitoring and offenses. This will require major intervention from authorities.

Since road law enforcement is not a primary focus or divided in various authorities. The thinking and methods of 60 years ago is still employed. Municipalities uses it as an income booster with no motivation to minimize offenses.

Use video and other technologies to monitor, eventually, every kilometre of the arteries and main roads for all visible offenses. Privatise the Law Enforcement Monitoring into be a self sustained unit with a viable business model. Sell all the assets like cameras, towers etc to the concession holder and let them be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance.

Privatising will also mean that it will not collect ‘dead wood’ like and automatically ‘prune’ according changing circumstances. Pay a percentage of revenue, call it ‘lease’ or ‘concession’ to the municipality for the right operate. This will free municipal officers for other tasks and reduce the overheads. It will boost income for the Municipalities.

Leave the enforcement to the authorities. With today's technology having an auditable, validatable and certifiable system is possible.

 

Licensing

A licence is a right to drive a certain type of vehicle on the public road. Not otherwise. You do not have a right to have a license unless you are qualified for it. That logic should be driven home. The consequence of negligent driving should be severe, especially in others are involved.

License cards should be machine readable as now, but with added security and malleability of an electronic chip. Capable of fingerprint, driving and licensing record, and synchronising with the central database every time it is checked or validated.

Licensing should go through three phases. A Learner license phase, Preliminary licence phase and a Full license phase. The learner and preliminary phase can be much the same as now, but with the Full Licence you are tested on a simulator for defensive driving. The simulator is much like the arcade game machine, but set up for testing you defensive driving and accident avoidance skills. It could even store points on your Learner Licence to validate your readiness for the next phase.

Between the Preliminary Licence and Full Licence a given time must be passed on a simulator to record credits and time before the final testing. The simulators, with exception those used for final testing, can be in the hands of the private sector, like accredited gaming rooms.

 

Licence Checking

Place automated licence checkers at toll booths, at toll road splits and at various strategic places. For random checking implement mobile readers with communication to central database.

 

Driving Checking

With the advances in technology, it is possible to fit front and rear video at a minute cost to record all vehicle movement. This can be phased in to apply to new vehicle only, but with time virtually all vehicle will be fitted. This must be admissible evidence in court.

With little incentive from the insurance industry (like with the tracking) the video system can be retrofit to many more vehicles. The potential advantages for the insurance and security industry is enormous.

 

That is the main thrust of the new system. Research and implement it wisely and many officers can be freed to do more important tasks of enforcing. Aspects of implementation, structure, security and integration will need to investigated in great detail.

 

To do all this we need the political will, and politicians with vision and savvy. A will to create a legacy that will far outlive the short lifespan of the average person in power. These people are just few and far between.

Which basically means we are stuck in a hole.

2013-02-16

 

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