Stopped at roadblock - what a pleasure

02 May 2014 - 08:16 By NIVASHNI NAIR
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Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Traffic officers targeted sober drivers on a major KwaZulu-Natal highway this week.

Instead of handing out fines and warnings, cheerful officers dished out free toll passes and R100 grocery vouchers.

Surprised but happy motorists drove off without complaint.

It was the first-of-its-kind roadblock in South Africa.

The pilot project, similar to France's petrol-for-sobriety programme, was rolled out near the Mooi River toll plaza on the N3 Johannesburg-Durban highway this week.

About 250 motorists were stopped, tested and rewarded. The roadblock was operated between 8am and noon.

Because all the drivers tested sober, it is expected that the time will be changed when the campaign is repeated.

The pilot project is intended to assess whether rewards can contribute to reducing drunk driving and bringing down the high number of fatalities on the roads.

South Africans Against Drunk Driving said increased law enforcement would be more beneficial.

The organisation wants more random alcohol testing, and all drivers to be tested for alcohol and drugs at crash scenes.

It's enough to drive you not to drink

Over 200 motorists, all of whom tested sober, were rewarded with a free pass through the Mooi River Toll Plaza and a R100 grocery voucher this week.

The pilot project - to reward sober drivers - was rolled out on the N3 highway on Wednesday morning.

Sibani Mngadi, spokesman for Brandhouse, the local alcohol company driving the project, said all of the drivers who had taken a breathalyser test were sober.

"The drivers were excited to hear that they would be rewarded. The commercial drivers were especially happy about the grocery vouchers.

"We will take into the account the time of the campaign (8am - noon). We cannot assume that the results would be different if the campaign was done later in the day," he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate spokeswoman Zinhle Mngomezulu said the campaign was treated as a regular roadblock and that drunk drivers would have been arrested and charged.

The inspectorate, the KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Authority, the N3 Toll Concession, Sanral and the Road Accident Fund are working with Brandhouse to eliminate drinking and driving.

According to Road Traffic Management Corporation preliminary figures, 193 people were killed in 148 crashes on the country's roads over Easter.

South Africans Against Drunk Driving spokeswoman Charlotte Sullivan said the body welcomed the initiative, but said an increase in law enforcement would be more beneficial.

"We should increase law enforcement. That is what we need to curb drunk driving," she said.

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