Enforcement, not alcohol limits, will stop road carnage
The Times Editorial: Plans to lower the blood alcohol limit to zero are the latest in a series of moves by the government that some think are turning South Africa into a nanny state.
Make no mistake, driving drunk is stupid and dangerous and should be punished. Most South Africans have a friend or a relative who has been hit by a speeding car with an inebriated idiot behind the steering wheel.
When loved ones are injured it is incredibly sad. But that is not all. There are also unseen expenses.
Road casualties cost the economy a fortune. Estimates range between R157-billion and R306-billion a year. These billions could finance between six and 12 Gautrains every year.
Drunk and reckless drivers take too many lives and thwart too many opportunities. Find them. Fine them. Lock them up.
But Transport Minister Ben Martins does not have the best plan to achieve this. His idea of zero tolerance for traffic offences is zero alcohol.
But the limit is already very low and the effect that 0.05g of alcohol per 100ml in the bloodstream has on decision-making is negligible.
We do not need stricter regulations. What we need is effective enforcement of the existing regulations.
Get the laboratories working so that those who drive while over the limit can be prosecuted and convicted. Get traffic officers to arrest whoever slips them a R100 note after being pulled over. And spill the beans whenever you encounter a dirty cop.
Banning alcohol advertising - as the Department of Health and now the Department of Transport want to do - is not the solution. Lowering the speed limit to 100km/h - as was previous transport minister S'bu Ndebele's plan - will only frustrate motorists and do nothing to improve road safety.
South Africans are good people who want to do the right thing. Trust them to do so. But punish them when they cross the line.