A ‘fine’ cheek if you don’t stop

Vard Aman, Plumstead

How many people come to a full stop at a stop street when there are no cars coming from any other direction, where visibility is clear and not hindered, and it is completely safe to go? Not many I’ll bet (even though technically, or perhaps I should rather say “legally”, you must). This means that there is a potential gold mine to be exploited by the City of Cape Town’s traffic police. But surely they wouldn’t stoop to that, right? Surely they are more interested in genuinely keeping the roads safe where it is most needed rather than simply being an oppor-tunistic money making organisation? Right?

Wrong apparently. I am, on occasion, one of those undoubtedly many who do not come to a complete stop at a stop street when I can clearly see there are no other cars coming and it safe for me to go, and because of that I recently received a rather nasty surprise in the mail.

The place where I committed my misdemeanour was at the three-way stop street at the intersection of Waterford Road and Coronation Avenue in Plumstead, near Steur- hof Station, coming from the De Waal Road side of Waterford Road. At the stop street one has a clear view down Coronation Avenue most of the time. Plus, Coronation Avenue is not a particularly busy road (unlike Water-ford), so this three-way stop is not a dangerous intersection – especially not when coming from the De Waal Road side, and it generally flows quite well. However, on the afternoon of June 8, I was apparently guilty of failing “to stop (my) vehicle with its front end in line with the stop sign”.

The fine was R1 500. Yes, you read that right. R1 500 for a minor misdemeanour at a safe intersection that functions on most days without problems.

Now, I’m not suggesting that I didn’t do it. Nor am I suggesting that I didn’t break the letter of the law. But R1 500 for that? Every day on Cape Town’s roads, there is some genuinely dangerous breaking of the law to be found. And it’s not just taxis. It’s rare to travel down the M5 without being tailgated at some point. There are far more dangerous intersection that need patrolling.

There are drivers running red lights and stop streets when it is most certainly not safe to do so. I almost had a collision once with just one such driver who did not stop at the stop street where Wolfe Street joins Waterloo Road in Wynberg.

He didn’t just fail “to stop his vehicle with its front end in line with the stop sign”, he didn’t slow down at all, he just kept going, and I had the opportunity to find out just how good my car’s brakes were. Where was a traffic officer then? Of course they can’t be everywhere. But I do know of one or two that certainly could have been much better placed (road safety wise) than they were on the afternoon of June 8 .

Needless to say, I am rather disappointed. We could really use some efficient traffic law enforcement. Their active presence is needed to keep our roads safe. Unfortunately, I am no longer convinced that that is how they think they should function.

It seems rather that they are just out to make as much money as they possibly can from the easiest of targets.

I’m not the richest of people, and R1 500 is going to sting.

And if this is how the City of Cape Town is going to be using its traffic officers in future, and if this practice is supported by the City of Cape Town at a policy level, then I shall be taking that into account on August 3 (when the municipal election takes place).