Missed by blitz, but…

While I drove all around the city this week, I didn’t pass through a single roadblock in the supposed traffic blitz that was an attempt to rake in the almost R600m that the city drivers owe in fines. We all heard about the roadblocks though. Especially the big finale on the M5 on Friday afternoon, which @capetownfreeway sensibly described as “Congestion”, rather than “Police trying to catch fine dodgers”.

Colour me unimpressed. Although I have never had a traffic fine in my life, how many drivers who did owe didn’t have to pass through a check either?

What has impressed me more, however, is the adoption of the new Cape Town Traffic Bylaw, which means that (amongst other things), repeat offenders will be fined more (and we’re assuming that they will pay up?) and that they may have their cellphones taken from them if they are seen using them at the wheel.

“They can’t do that – it’s illegal!” whine the whiners, but they’re wrong. There’s a long-term precedent for impounding of property – vehicles and animals are good examples.


Just as you would if your motor vehicle were towed away, you will now need to visit the pound in order to redeem your phone.

“This is obviously not a step we were keen to take,’ says JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security “but the reality is that distracted driving, mainly due to talking or texting on cell phones while driving, is one of the four major causes of death on the road.” The other three are speed, alcohol and not wearing safety belts.

Distracted driving, as it’s known, is a well-known cause of road fatalities; this includes changing radio channels and talking or texting. At the moment, notes Alderman Smith, the fines for these offences are too small to make an impression and there are insufficient traffic enforcement resources to ensure that offences are dealt with often enough to modify offender behaviour.

“We have also created tougher sentences for driving without a safety belt – another big cause of fatalities. Of course a seatbelt doesn’t prevent a crash, but in the event of such an event, it can be the difference between life and death.”

At last. I hope, as Alderman Smith suggests, that they are serious about using the new bylaw. My kids and I nearly got wiped out at the traffic lights on Waterloo Road today.
We were stationery, since the light was red, the daft cow in the Opal Corsa Lite “S” (seriously, it’s a Corsa Lite – don’t attract further attention by adding a big red letter) came up behind us doing [cough] “sixty”, saw us VERY late because she was texting on her white BB and just missed us, finally skidding into the kerb about 50cm behind us. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, incidentally. So that gives her at least three out of four of the major causes of death on the road.
Anyway, I got a fright, she got a fright (and probably BBM’d her friends about it as she drove away), the kids were unaware, unperturbed and therefore unmoved by the entire incident.

Which is just about the best result I could have wished for, save for her phone being impounded, like her brain obviously had been.