The deaths of 15 people in a KwaZulu-Natal truck accident on Monday highlighted the fact that the Department of Transport could not concentrate only on infrastructure development and that attitudes to road safety had to change, Transport Minister Dullah Omar said.

The deaths of 15 people in a KwaZulu-Natal truck accident on Monday highlighted the fact that the Department of Transport could not concentrate only on infrastructure development and that attitudes to road safety had to change, Transport Minister Dullah Omar said.


CARtoday.com reported on Tuesday that fifteen people died when a truck ploughed into a crowd of people standing alongside the road collecting their pensions at Tugela Ferry. The truck lost control while trying to overtake another truck.


Speaking at a media briefing on the third day of the 22nd World Road Congress in Durban on Tuesday, Omar said the event, which focused on strategies to achieve sustainable development and economic upliftment through the development of road infrastructure during the Minister's session on Monday, would be "beneficial for South Africa road and traffic authority and was not just a talk shop".


"South African has a bad road safety record and the Department is determined to reduce the number of smashes and fatalities. The tragic loss of life underlines the need to bring about a culture of good road behaviour in South Africa," he said.


By holding discussions with transport officials from the other nations represented at the World Road Congress, the government hoped to exchange road safety strategies and implement intelligent transport systems that would decrease the death toll in South Africa, Omar added.


Focusing on the present situation, the Road Traffic Management programme was intended to improve the training and management of South African traffic officials so that they could shoulder more responsibility, Department spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya said.


To this Omar added: "Our intention is for traffic officials to spend less time on administrative work and focus on removing unroadworthy vehicles and take unfit drivers off the road".


"Almost 35 per cent of road fatalities last year were pedestrians and a higher presence of traffic officials would go a long way to address the problem," Omar said. "Pedestrians, such as school children, can be more safety conscious by wearing reflective clothing for example".


"To ensure that most vehicles are fit to be on the road, we are improving testing facilities at regional and provincial," the Minister said. "Driver fitness and the ability to drive defensively."


With regards to public passenger vehicles, Omar said the Department had initiated a programme, in conjunction with the taxi industry, to educate taxi drivers to "deal with the stress of operating minibus in urban areas and instil safe driving techniques".


The Department was also considering the implementation of regulations that would make it necessary for long-haul passenger buses to have two drivers. Respective drivers would then be permitted to be behind the wheel for a limited period of time, Omar said.