Speed traps 'a money-making tool'
Sipokazi Maposa
April 24 2007 at 02:06PM

It is official - speed traps are laid on less dangerous roads and used as a money-making tool, rather than to enhance road safety, according to councillor JP Smith.

But that is about to change as the city adopts a policy that would guide the Metro Police to where speed cameras are most needed to reduce accidents.

Smith, chairman of the portfolio committee on Safety and Security, said it was hoped the new policy would provide guidelines on where to put cameras, which in the past had been used as a money-making tool and not necessarily to improve road safety.

The new policy, initiated by the Metro Police, will give priority to reducing collisions on the city's death trap roads.

Heathcliff Thomas, Metro Police deputy head for traffic and licensing, said the policy would guide the management and control of fixed and mobile camera systems in city roads.

He said key locations would include roads where the latest statistics showed that a number of fatal or serious injury collisions had occurred.

Speed cameras would also target roads notorious for speeding, and would even be placed at road works if the safety of motorists and construction workers was at risk.

"We also propose the appointment of a committee to constantly review proposals for the installation of new traffic violation cameras," he said.

Tabled last week at the city's Safety and Security portfolio committee meeting, the policy, which also lists seven site selection rules for installation of cameras, comes just after a Metro Police report identifying the city's killer roads.

The report, published in the Cape Argus in February, identified the R300 freeway near Delft as the city's deadliest road, with Baden Powell Drive near Muizenberg rating second and the N2 third on the list of the city's top 24 dangerous roads.

The report provided an overview of the 30 roads in the city on which motorists were most frequently trapped by mobile cameras in the period between January and December last year. It identified the best known accident locations and intersections in an effort to initiate interventions targeted at the right locations.

Spine Road and Swartklip intersection near Mitchell's Plain rated top on the city's most dangerous intersections, followed by Potsdam Road and the N7 near Du Noon. The N7 and N2 intersection came third in the city's top 25 dangerous intersections.

In the past, the city didn't have criteria for the approval of fixed camera sites and this had led to politicians and community organisations taking decisions on where to have such cameras, Smith said.

"The main area of concern by the authorities has been to ensure that the use of fixed cameras met with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions' guidelines for prosecution purposes.

"It is envisaged that with the adoption of an official policy, based on internationally accepted norms, sound engineering principles and the analysis of traffic trends, any future identification of fixed sites would be seen in the interest of road safety and that road safety is the overriding justification for camera use," reads the report.

Smith said the accident report revealed that traffic officials were trapping in the wrong places.

"The report showed a 50 percent mismatch.

"This means that 50 percent of the accidents happened on roads with less enforcement and the roads that were trapped were not necessarily dangerous," he said.

He said the committee would in the next three months ask for a report on the progress made by the policy.

o This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Argus on April 24, 2007