During the 2017 Easter season, approximately 61,000 motorists were charged with various traffic offenses…
As the Easter holidays draw ever closer, traffic on South Africa’s roads is set to see its traditional yearly spike, as holiday-makers disperse to various sunny hotspots in search of rest and relaxation.
This annual pilgrimage is traditionally accompanied by a huge increase in road fatalities, something which has worsened over time, with the 2017 season seeing 51%[i] more deaths than during the same period during the previous year.
As such, roadblocks have also become a well-established feature of the holiday season, with police attempting to reduce the prevalence of unlicensed and intoxicated drivers during key travel windows. In fact, during the 2017 Easter season, approximately 61,000 motorists were charged with various traffic offenses – a telling indication of how many more accidents might have taken place without any police presence.
So while roadblocks are not generally welcomed by drivers anxious to kick off their holiday plans, they are unfortunately a very real necessity, and best approached with caution, patience and understanding.
Not only is it vital that you verify the validity of any roadblock, but it’s also equally important that you have a thorough understanding of your rights – after all, you don’t want to spend your holiday catching a tan in prison.
Here are a few key pointers to bear in mind should you encounter a roadblock this holiday season:
The best and quickest way to cope with a roadblock is to exercise compliance, patience and to follow instructions without objection. Let the traffic officers on the scene guide you to a safe stopping point and present them with the necessary documents on request. Should they wish to search your person, remember that male officers may not do so to females and vice versa.
Assess the scene
While uniformed officers have the right to stop any vehicle and ask for your information, you are equally entitled to request theirs, so as to ensure they are legitimate law enforcers. So if you are in any way unsure of the roadblock’s legitimacy, ask for a written authorisation certificate signed by the National or Provincial Police Commissioner.
The last thing you want at a roadblock is to be fined or arrested, so you would be well advised to be prepared before leaving home. Not only should you ensure your car is roadworthy, but you will also want to make sure that both your vehicle and driver’s licenses are up-to-date, as you could incur hefty fines otherwise. Unpaid traffic fines can also become an enormous problem and can result in an immediate arrest if a warrant has already been issued. In short, if you make sure you are on the right side of the law before leaving home, those road blocks should not be anything more than a minor inconvenience.
Know your rights
While getting ticketed can be an enormous annoyance (and certainly dampens the mood ahead of a holiday), getting carted away in the back of a police van is undoubtedly worse. As such, it’s important that you understand your rights when it comes to being caught in a road block.
Should you resist or fail a breathalyser test, you could find yourself behind bars in double quick time, so it is best to avoid any alcohol consumption ahead of or during your drive. Equally, verbally or physically abusing an officer for any reason likely will not end well. However, it is important to bear in mind that you must be informed of your rights immediately should an officer decide to arrest you.
Should you find yourself in a situation that you believe violates your rights in any way, it is important to accumulate as much physical evidence as you can. You will want to acquire the officer’s badge number as well as their vehicle number and document as much of the scene as possible using your mobile phone camera.
Ultimately, as long as you remember to stay calm and keep to the rules of the road this Easter, you are likely to return home without incident.
For more information, visit www.miway.co.za
By: Nthabiseng Moloi, MiWay Head of Marketing & Brand