President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to foster a ‘culture of responsibility’ after a number of high-profile deaths dominated headlines in January.
Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa drew specific focus to the high number of deaths on the country’s roads and a continued culture of lawlessness.
“We need to be responsible for ourselves, for our children and for others. Just as we need to ensure that children are able to grow up in a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment, so too must we feel a duty to protect and care for all those who we know and interact with,” he said.
“We must feel this duty of care on the road. While we welcome the drop in road fatalities over this festive season, the grim reality is that over 1,600 people died on our roads in just a month and a half.
“It is disturbing that over 9,000 motorists were arrested for offenses including drunk driving, speeding, and reckless and negligent driving. A culture of responsibility means that we should all drive safely and respect the rights of pedestrians and other road users.”
The government hopes to improve driving on the country’s roads through the introduction of the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.
On Friday (24 January), Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced that the act will officially commence in June 2020, along with a new zero-tolerance approach to drunk driving.
Mbalula said his department will introduce a 0% legal blood-alcohol limit, meaning that drivers will not be allowed to drink alcohol and drive at all.
This new restriction will work alongside the new Aarto Act which will introduce South Africa’s long-awaited demerit system which could see drivers lose their licenses if they accumulate enough traffic fines.