Drunk drivers plying South African roads will soon be serving two years in jail sentence with no bail, says the SA traffic department.
Speaking while addressing the sudden rise of road accidents in the past Easter celebration, the SA traffic department says discussions over punishments for those caught drunk driving is at its final stage with the justice department planning to institute punishments as harsh as 2 years mandatory jail sentence with no bail.
Those found guilty of the crime under a Schedule 5 offense are to face a minimum sentence of 15 years in jail as recommended. The crimes that fall under this category include murder, attempted murder, treason, rape, corruption, extortion, and fraud.
Meanwhile, those found guilty of violating traffic laws are to face a prison sentence of at least two years, says the Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi who also noted that the sentence would be without mercy as the introduction of the sentence was part of the department’s long-term strategy to curb road casualties.
Other strategies to curb deaths derived by the SA traffic department include amendments to the National Road Traffic Regulations, which were published in November 2016. The amendments pay much attention to regulating the transportation of persons in the load bays of light delivery vehicles for reward.
The regulations, which will come into effect in May 2017, will assist in the reduction of the number of passengers dying in collisions.
As many as 235 people lost their lives on South Africa’s roads during the Easter long weekend – an increase of 79 (51%) from 156 over the same period the previous year. The statistics were recorded from the 13th to 17th April 2017.
Easter celebration ended with a report of about 235 people dying via road accident, the official preliminary road crash statistics stated last Friday.
According to the statistics, the rise in accident rates got to 51% from last year’s statistics. People who died on the roads this Easter were 50% passengers, followed by pedestrians at 24.5%, drivers at 19.8% and cyclists at 5.7%.
“Our preliminary report shows that many people who died on our roads were victims of hit and run incidents, jaywalking or motorists who were driving at speeds that were too high for the circumstances.
“The report illustrates a new pattern in which crashes shifted from the identified historical hotspots into new routes and build-up areas on times that previously did not have a high number of crashes,” said Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi.
Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga mentioned the bus accident which killed 15 people near Ntunjambili, as well as the nine people killed in the South Coast horror crash in KwaZulu-Natal as part of the highest roads accident recorded so far.
The vehicle types that made a high contribution to fatal crashes were motorcars and light delivery vehicles, with 49% and 20%, respectively.
To this, the National Road Safety Strategy 2016-2030, which was approved by Cabinet, has laid out plans to address the challenges and gaps identified by the department on the implementation of the previous road safety strategies.
The Road Accident Fund alone spends about R33 billion annually on payments of claims, which could be redirected to other government priorities to address the triple challenge of employment, poverty, and inequality, laments Minister Maswanganyi.
Maswanganyi, however, said the interventions were implemented because road traffic injuries are a global problem affecting all sectors of society.