Calls for ‘ghost biker unit’ to curb texting while driving

JPSA’s Howard Dembovsky says people guilty of texting and driving must be brought to book.

FILE: Justice Project South Africa (JPSA)’s Howard Dembovsky on Monday called on the enforcement of ‘ghost biker units’ to curb the trend of texting while driving. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - 'Ghost biker units' should be deployed to curb the trend of texting while driving, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA)'s Howard Dembovsky said on Monday.

The unit operates mostly in Cape Town.

The so-called ghost biker unit travels in normal traffic trying to spot people using their cellphones.

JPSA says texting and driving is dangerous.

"They [guilty motorists] get pulled over and [it's] explained that they shouldn't be doing this. [Ghost bikers] actually bring [drivers] to book at the time," Dembovsky said.

Statistics show that a total of 1,357 people lost their lives due to fatal road accidents over the 2013/2014 festive season, a decrease from 2012/2013's figure of 1,465.

Dembovsky says road accidents can be avoided if drivers pay attention to roads and if visible policing is enforced throughout the year.

"The fact is we do have some of the worst drivers in the world and people need to face up to this. Unfortunately our traffic authorities have to start taking responsibility for these issues. If visible policing doesn't take place on a sustained basis, drivers will continue to break little laws and graduate to breaking bigger laws."

He also suggests that insurance companies should look at repudiating claims if their clients were involved in a road accident and were on using a phone at the time.

Dembovsky further mentions that South Africans are prone to speeding.

He blames this on the fact that speed enforcement in the country is done by camera, which is not as imposing as when one is pulled over by a traffic official and reprimanded on the spot.

"There seems to be an attitude of selfishness on our roads. People believe that their particular needs and their wants outweigh the safety of other people on our roads. They seem to forget around 43 percent of the people who are killed on our roads are pedestrians."