Road safety specialist and MD of driving skills company, driving.co.za, Rob Handfield – Jones, has criticised the Joburg Metro Police Department over comments attributed to it in a newspaper article on Tuesday, March 13. In the article, the JMPD’s co-ordinating inspector for speed enforcement, Sergeant Dennis Busch, was quoted as claiming that the N1 highway is Johannesburg’s ‘ most dangerous road’ based on the number of fatalities occurring on it, that speed was the N1’s ‘number one killer’, and that highways are more dangerous than suburban roads.
“Busch errs by failing to differentiate between the N1’s death toll and its fatality risk,” Handfield-Jones responded. “His stance is akin to claiming that the USA has 40 000 traffic fatalities a year, compared to South Africa’s 15 000, so our roads are safer. The real picture is that if South Africa’s fatality risk was as low as the USA’s, we’d have just 600 road deaths a year,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the Road Traffic Management Corporation hasn’t released proper fatality risk data since 2006, so Busch’s statements that the N1 is Johannesburg’s ‘most dangerous road’ – or a higher risk road than any surburban road – are entirely unprovable,” he commented. “Busch’s opinions on speed should likewise be disregarded as anecdotal, since they find no support in any previous credible research conducted into the causes of crashes in South Africa.”
“I am further perplexed at Busch’s statements on pedestrians and drunken driving, and his attempts to link tyre failure to high speed,” Handfield-Jones added, saying that tyre companies have repeatedly stated that almost all blowouts result from under-inflation, overloading and damaged tyres. “The Institute of Licensing Officers has reported that only 1.06 percent of all JMPD’s prosecutions are for any offence other than speeding. Meanwhile, up to 20 percent of tyres are damaged or incorrectly inflated, pedestrians roam our freeways apparently immune from prosecution, and 60 percent of all drivers killed in crashes are drunk,” he commented. “If Busch is concerned about tyres, pedestrians and drunk driving, why is the JMPD virtually ignoring those very offences?”
“For AARTO to work, the RTMC should take control of ineffectual traffic departments like the JMPD by putting speed enforcement right at the bottom of the agenda and introducing strict quotas for enforcement of offences which have been proven to lead to fatal crashes at almost any speed above walking pace,” Handfield-Jones commented. “Speed doesn’t kill – bad driving does,” he concluded.