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Traffic cops turn up heat
Dodging traffic cops and breaking the law without being caught has become almost impossible in Cape Town.

Dodging traffic cops and breaking the law without being caught has become almost impossible in the city.

The Cape Town traffic department has deployed maximum enforcement and intensified operations with more patrols, more roadblocks and random roadworthy checks on major routes.

Using hi-tech equipment, authorities will also be able to track vehicles with outstanding warrants by simply driving through a car park or standing at the side of the road.
'Road safety has become a priority'

Traffic cop visibility has also increased on the N1, the N2 bus and minibus taxi (BMT) lane, M3, M5 and other busy routes.

JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, said dozens of roadblocks were being set up across the city every day, and motorists could expect to see more enforcement and tougher action over the next few weeks.

"Road safety has become a priority," said Smith.

"In the run-up to 2010 we will see even more traffic cops being deployed on the roads. Currently, we have about 300 patrolling traffic officers, and an additional 100 will join them in March."

Smith said the traffic department, together with provincial traffic, would carry out random searches and roadworthy tests and step up the number of roadblocks.

"Trucks and heavy vehicles are disproportionately invol-ved in accidents," he said.

"We will be clamping down on them. Buses are also not without incident."

The city recently launched a road haulage unit focusing on heavy vehicle safety.

The unit comprises experienced traffic officers and vehicle experts.

In a single blitz along Modderdam Road in Bellville last week, authorities issued more than 3 000 fines, most of them to minibus taxi drivers.

Using a number plate-recognition camera system linked to a patrol van, officers are able to scan automatically the number plates of passing vehicles. The system identifies the number plate, checks it against outstanding warrants data, and makes a beeping noise should the driver be pulled over.

Smith said several spotters were deployed during operations to ensure that motorists who tried to dodge roadblocks were nabbed.

And with traffic officer numbers being bolstered, a new fleet of vehicles had been acquired.

"The city invested in more expensive vehicles," said Smith.

"The old Mazdas and Nissans can't stand the punch. The new vehicles and bikes are far better and able to pursue vehicles in a high-speed chase."

Richard Bosman, the city's executive director for safety, said authorities had a clear plan and road safety strategy.

"All three of the city's enforcement units have found their niche," he said.

"Traffic services are working extremely well on the roads, the metro police have launched a number of operations, and law enforcement is doing a great job enforcing the city's by-laws."

Bosman warned motorists they "will be taken off the roads" if they drove recklessly or under the influence of alcohol.

"The instruction to our officers is clear - we have adopted a zero-tolerance approach," he said.

"Unroadworthy vehicles will be taken off the roads, drunk drivers will be arrested and those who break the law will be fined."


This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Argus on November 23, 2009

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