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Tech to curb Gauteng road deaths

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 30 Jul 2008

New traffic law enforcement technology worth R8 million, combined with other programmes such as the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) and smart number plates will shortly make Gauteng's roads hell for drivers who show casual respect for the rules of the road.

The national Department of Transport says over 13 000 people are killed on SA's roads every year, costing the economy an estimated R581 billion in the decade after 1996. Government has now put into effect a plan to halve the death toll by 2014.

In Gauteng, community safety MEC Firoz Cachalia has set a goal of reducing fatalities by 30% in five years and has also just equipped the Gauteng Traffic Police (GTP) with a fleet of new vehicles to clear the road of delinquent drivers and unroadworthy vehicles.

"The traffic police will use these 137 new vehicles to make the province's roads unsafe for criminals," says Cachalia. The new fleet includes 17 2.0 litre Volkswagen Golf GTIs for the province's High Speed Unit and 104 Volkswagen Jettas for the Highway Patrol.

"These vehicles are fitted with onboard speed measuring equipment, as well as an eye-witness technology, which will record every interaction between traffic officers and motorists," he added.

Officials explain the technology, provided by Midrand-based Truvelo, a veteran SA-based global traffic law enforcement vendor, cost R8.4 million and "records all moving violations committed by motorists from within the patrol vehicle, including speeding, cellphone usage, as well as white- and yellow-line violations.

No more 'he said, she said'

Spokesman Mandla Radebe says "this system records all visual and audio footage to a DVD, protected by a vault in the vehicle". The vault, he adds, is bullet- and tamper-proof.

"All footage is water-marked to protect against tampering. The system consists of a monitor, camera, control unit, speed measuring instrument and the already-mentioned secure vault mounted inside the vehicle. The vehicle is fitted with a wireless microphone to record all audio evidence both in and outside the vehicle."

In addition, the GTP is also deploying the Truvelo D-Cam, a "state-of-the art digital mobile speed measuring system using laser sensor technology".

Radebe says the system is tripod mounted and can be used both day and night. "All digital images, including the necessary data required to issue a valid fine are safely encrypted with the necessary software and safely downloaded where they are decrypted for viewing purposes," Radebe says.

"The D-Cam, in automated or manual set-up, allows the option of pulling vehicles off for 'section 56' fines where it is safe to do so, or issuing 'section 341' notices where conditions do not allow for offices to safely pull vehicles off to the side of the road," Radebe adds.


Details of every fine are then recorded against the vehicle or driver's file on the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) and points are deducted from the driver's allocation in terms of AARTO rules. When a driver has lost all his points, his licence is suspended. Persistent bad driving or rule-breaking may see it cancelled.

The early settlement of fines will see drivers gain points and discounts, but those who refuse to pay their fines can look forward to the Sheriff attach their moveable assets prior to having it auctioned.

The Tasima Consortium that developed and implemented eNatis says the system tracks a driver's points real-time.

AARTO is currently being piloted in the Pretoria area. It will roll-out nationally at year end, when Gauteng is also likely to introduce a new number plate system that includes two dimensional barcodes - these link the plates to a specific car, making it more difficult for crooked drivers to obtain or display false number plates in order to escape prosecution for ignoring traffic rules.

The Johannesburg metro police reckons there are several thousand such drivers in the metropole alone at present.

Related stories:
AARTO nightmare looms
Real-time boost for eNatis
eNatis collects its share
SANRAL camera project winds up
eNatis woes a thing of the past