Police 'asleep at the wheel'
With the festive season around the corner, safety experts have raised concerns about the absence of traffic officials on duty at night - when most road accidents happen.
Road Traffic Management Corporation acting CEO Collins Letsoalo revealed this week that - with the exception of the Western Cape - there was no traffic law enforcement on provincial roads between 10pm and 6am.
Road-safety experts are questioning the logic of not manning roads for eight hours, saying not only is it unsafe but "irresponsible".
Letsoalo's reason for the eight-hour vacuum was that statistics showed most crashes occurred between 7pm and midnight.
Howard Dembovsky from the Justice Project South Africa said it was "irresponsible" of Letsoalo to make the announcement because "road users will now know for sure that they are quite safe breaking traffic laws during those hours".
"These statements should have been made to traffic law-enforcement authorities, not the public," Dembovsky said.
Automobile Association spokesman Gary Ronald agreed it was time law-enforcement agencies, including traffic authorities, be declared essential services.
"The lack of effective policing leads to lawlessness among road users. Drivers who have been drinking know that all they have to do is keep within the speed limit during those times to avoid being caught on camera. None of this would be happening if there were constant road blocks - or at least traffic officers on our roads," Ronald said.
Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashref Ismail attributed the shortage of traffic officers during those hours to a lack of support from authorities in at least five provinces.
The road safety group is in talks with the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo about 24-hour policing.
Ismail said the traffic police presence in the Western Cape should be the national standard.
"We have shown provincial managers that implementing a similar approach will not have significant, if any, financial implications on budgets, but their constant reluctance is causing unnecessary agitation among officers on our roads."