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Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says her department is in the process of finalising a new policy on scholar transport aimed at improving road safety for vulnerable pupils.
Speaking at the third Africa Road Safety Seminar in Cape Town on Tuesday, the Minister said the policy will be, once drafted, forwarded to Cabinet for approval before it is forwarded to Parliament.
The Minister said this at the back of alarming deaths of child pedestrians on the roads, who get killed while walking long distances to and from schools those that get killed in vehicles that are not roadworthy and those whose grades are affected by exhaustion for taking long walks to school.
“As a country, we freely acknowledge that central to making our roads safer for our kids is the exchange of policy perspectives and initiatives, hence we whole heartedly embrace this conference,” said the Minister to seminar delegates. She said on top of tighter enforcement of public transport safety, particularly scholar transport, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) – a law enforcement agency of her department – has since introduced several educational programmes aimed at also empowering vulnerable scholars.
“The RTMC… has since its inception implemented numerous road safety programmes at school level, in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, such as Road Safety Education in Life Orientation as a subject, Scholar Patrol, Road Safety Schools Debates and Junior Traffic Training Centres,” she said.
As part of Scholar Road Safety Initiatives, provinces have given bicycles and head gear – particularly to those who walk less than 5km to school – as a means of keeping them safe on the roads.
This saw some 95 000 bicycles being given to learners since 2006. The Minister said over the next three years, 21 000 more bicycles would be given to school children.
Minister Peters called on motorists to be responsible by strapping their young ones in child restraints when driving with them.
Push to halve road carnage
The Minister said South Africa remains committed to reducing road deaths by the year 2020.
In South Africa, records indicate that the first ever road crash took place on 1 October 1903 in Maitland, Cape Town, and that between that day and the end of 2013, 543 000 people have been killed in crashes.
The Minister said fatalities had reached unacceptable levels.
“In South Africa, the right to and protection of life of our people is enshrined in the Constitution.
“The need for safe and reliable transport infrastructure and services is fully captured in ANC transport policies.
“The National Development Plan – the blueprint for the South Africa we want – also makes provision for an efficient, reliable, safe and affordable public transport system,” she said.
SA to draw strategies from developing countries
Minister Peters said injuries sustained in road traffic were, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Report on Road Safety, a leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years.
She said that the risk of dying as a result of road crashes was higher in developing states when compared to their developed counterparts.
“The risk of dying as a result of road crashes is highest in the African region (which is 24.1 deaths per 100 000 population) and the lowest in the European region (10.3 deaths per 100 000 population).
“According to WHO, 92% of the world’s road traffic deaths in 2010 occurred in 87 lower income countries,” she said.
The Minister said South Africa should be benchmarked with other developing countries in the southern region, like those in the BRICS group of countries, and draw lessons from them on their strategies that they use for bringing down road carnage.
Source : SAnews.gov.za