Cape Town — Traffic authorities have called on South Africans to exercise tolerance and patience on the country’s roads during the World Cup, to reduce the risk of road rage and carnage. One of the biggest concerns ahead of the event, says Ashref Ismail, national traffic enforcement co-ordinator and head of 2010 operations at the Road Traffic Management Corporation, is how locals and international visitors will get along on the roads.

He said the Road Traffic Management Corporation had consulted traffic authorities in Germany and other World Cup host cities, and was working on a strategy to deal with motorists before and after matches. “It is a big challenge, especially with the phenomenon of hooliganism and intoxicated fans roaming the streets after matches. But we are working with the host cities and have requested that each host city give us their event transport and safety plans.”

Drink-driving would be another challenge. “People will be watching the games at the fan parks and public viewing areas, and then get behind the wheel and cause havoc. We will be monitoring the areas around fan parks and around the stadium. “People can expect roadblocks and a lot of traffic jams in… the host cities.”

Ismail said 13 000 people a year died on the country’s roads.”Most of the fatalities are pedestrians,” Ismail said. “We need more education and have to ensure that there are enough footbridges and pedestrian crossings.” Alta Swanepoel, who helped draft the country’s traffic legislation, said not enough was being done to protect vulnerable road users. Although there was legislation for pedestrians, it was not being enforced, the prosecutor said. “I have never heard of someone being convicted for not stopping at a pedestrian crossing (to allow) a child to cross,” said Swanepoel.

“These laws are there, but no one is enforcing them. Motorists are just speeding over pedestrian crossings without even slowing down.” Swanepoel said that to meet the goal of halving the number of road deaths by 2015, the authorities needed to begin enforcing the law.

PUBLICATION: Cape Argus
AUTHOR: Clayton Barnes
DATED: 28th October 2009