Road deaths video footage makes it real

07 December 2011 - 01:42 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

The Western Cape provincial government intends to broadcast CCTV footage of people dying or maimed in car crashes to raise road safety awareness during the festive season.

The campaign, "Crash Witness", was launched by MEC for transport Robin Carlisle yesterday.

Carlisle said the public would have access to footage shot by the province's CCTV cameras on the Crash Witness campaign website.

Hailing the campaign as a first in South Africa, Carlisle said: "In some of these clips, people are killed or very badly injured."

"South Africans have been hiding from the reality on the roads for too long, hiding behind words such as 'accidents', and even the belief that the carnage is somehow God's will."

He said the campaign was conceived after his department was supplied with video footage of road accidents by the Freeway Management System, the SA National Roads Agency, the provincial transport department and the City of Cape Town.

People will be warned about the content of the video clips.

"Taking the decision to publish this footage was very difficult. We expect that there will be many who will criticise it," Carlisle said.

"This footage brings home to the motorist, passenger and pedestrian the very real dangers that exist on our roads and has a profound effect on those who view it."

Carlisle said he believed the videos would get people to "slow down, not drink and drive, leave cellphones alone and look out for pedestrians".

He said he had the backing of the survivors and the families of those who died in the accidents.

Department of Transport spokesman Logan Maistry said the national department welcomed all initiatives aimed at reducing road deaths.

He said South Africa was a participant in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, which was established by a resolution of the UN.

"We welcome initiatives by provinces, municipalities and by all individuals to reduce the carnage on our roads," said Maistry. 

"As we head towards the festive season we are calling upon each and every South African to enlist as a friend of the Decade of Action for Road Safety and pledge to obey all road rules."

But Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase, spokesman for the Film and Publication Board, said that, though the department's intentions in releasing the footage were commendable, it was necessary to make sure that the video film did not reach sensitive viewers or young children who might find it unduly disturbing.

"Normally, if material of that nature were to be distributed in DVD or film format it would need to be classified by the Film and Publication Board so that it could be given a certain rating in terms of age restriction," said Ndamase.