From: Lincoln Saakje EDA LIC []
Sent: 21 September 2010 10:45 AM
To: CPF Call Centre
Subject: FW: FW: Red alert for motorists

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Red alert for motorists


    August 08 2010 at 12:48PM

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Do you have a pair of red hazard triangles in the boot of your car?  If not, watch out for the Metro Police because if they find you don't have them, you could be looking at a fat fine.

You are not alone. It seems thousands of car owners and drivers have been driving their vehicles in contravention of the National Road Traffic Regulations for up to three years without even realising it.

Dozens of motorists caught in a recent blitz in the Hillcrest area claimed that Metro Police were rummaging through their boots in search of the triangles, which they didn't know they were supposed to have. When there were none, they were fined upwards of R250.  The question is, is this just a once-off ploy by over-zealous police or a new incentive to promote safer driving?

Durban Metro Police spokeswoman Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo is quite adamant that the random blitzes, which are being conducted throughout the province, are necessary.  "We have to clamp down on dangerous practices on our roads because of the high number of accidents. Part of the zero tolerance campaign is to ensure that every vehicle is abiding by the regulations. Warning signs are what every motorist should have in their boot. They can save lives and prevent accidents."  Durban ratepayer representative Lilian Develing says she has fielded dozens of calls from irate motorists who have been caught in roadblocks in the past few weeks.   "Most people weren't aware that not having these triangles was a traffic violation," said Develing.   "As far as I know it's a regulation that has not been enforced until now. Most people wouldn't have a clue where to find them in their car."  She believes it would have been fairer for the police to have first alerted the public to the regulation and warned of possible fines if the hazard sign ruling wasn't adhered to.   "If the aim of the blitz was to make the roads safer, preying on people's ignorance of the law and dishing out large fines, surely isn't the way to go."

A spokesman for Midas stores in KZN, stockists of car accessories, said the run on packs of warning signs had taken them by surprise.  "Many of our stores have run out of stock," he said.

Howard Dembovsky, national chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, an NGO formed in 2008 to root out power abuse in law enforcement through legal means, said that while the regulations had been in place for five years, it was only this month Metro Police appeared to have started acting on to this "seemingly little known requirement".  He said that when Gauteng motorists complained of hefty fines for not carrying warning triangles in their cars, the Justice Project investigated the issue.   "We were informed by the Metro Police Division head of prosecutions, Basil Nkwashu, this regulation was in force and the fine issued by his officers would stand if the car had been registered after July 1, 2006."

Revo Spies of the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department, who represents all Metro chiefs, confirmed every vehicle manufacturer in the country was "aware of and complying with" this provision as part of SABS requirements.

Dembovsky believes that just as a secondhand car dealer should not sell someone a pre-owned car that has no seatbelts, they should be equally liable to provide warning triangles as is required by law.  "We understand that a warning triangle can significantly assist in preventing a collision in the event of a breakdown so it stands to reason that it would be good to have and use one - but then police need to be just as vigilant about other               safety hazards, like motorists still using their cellphones while driving."

·         This article was originally published on page 10 of Tribune on August 08, 2010