Drones to patrol SA roads

South African motorists should not be surprised to see drones flying over highways soon.

The country’s Road Traffic Management Corporation – a state owned enterprise charged with ensuring safe road use on national carriageways – has announced that it will soon be deploying drones to the highways, where they will be the organisation’s eye in the sky, identifying hazards and checking whether roads users are complying with rules.

“Traffic officers will now be issued with body cameras to support them in evidence gathering and improve conviction rate for violations of traffic laws,” transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said in a post on twitter, celebrating the launch of the country’s Easter Road Safety Campaign.

“RTMC will also be investing in drones to assist in identifying hazards on the roads, and to identify motorists who are driving recklessly and at unacceptable high speeds.”

Of late, the South African government and public sector institutions have been increasingly opening up to the possibilities of drone technology helping their efforts to serve the nation; with proposals being floated to use drone technology in policing and also securing state owned infrastructure like electricity cables along rail roads.

In applying drones to road surveillance, the authorities are trying to curb road carnage that has been the bane of many a South African road user especially during public holidays. During the last normal easter holiday the country had in 2019 before COVID-19 struck, 104 people died in 80 fatal crashes worldwide.

“We simply cannot continue using the same tactics that have not worked in the past and hoping that these tactics will be able to yield different results, said Dikeledi Magadzi, who attended this year’s launch. “Let us embrace the opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution and leverage new frontier technologies that have been presented to fight the cancer of reckless conduct.”

It was not clear whether the drones will be used for this year’s holidays.

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