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City interventions raise traffic fine income, ensure safer roads

The City of Cape Town has seen a R43 million increase in the traffic fine income for the 2013/14 financial year – an indication that measures implemented in the last year are paying off. 

Cape Town Traffic Services has reported a traffic fine income of R142.3 million for the financial year ending June 2014. This is significantly higher than the 2012/13 financial year, when traffic fine income was R99.3 million.
‘This increase is not due to the issuing of more fines, but a direct result of the various interventions that we have implemented in the last year and it really is very encouraging to see the progress that we are making in this area, but there is still a long road ahead. Our traffic fine recovery rate continues to be the best in the country, but at just under forty percent we are nowhere near the sixty percent recovery rate that we’ve set for ourselves. Only through ensuring that traffic offenders are compelled to face the consequences of their actions, can we change their road behaviour and make our roads safer,’ says Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
The most recent intervention to get motorists to pay their traffic fines started as a pilot project in April 2014, when the City’s Traffic Fine Management Department rolled out a pilot SMS reminder service - the department received over 10 000 replies to the text messages on the first day. 
First notices of fines are still being sent by mail, along with a confirmation SMS to advise people that their traffic fine has been posted. The traditional Second Notice is being replaced by a text message with all the details of the fine as well as payment options. Fourteen days later, there’ll be a final SMS warning that failing to settle, will result in a summons being issued.  
‘The department often receives large quantities of ‘return to sender’ first notices, due to the fact that the physical addresses where vehicles are registered are not updated as many individuals move around. This is why the department has started the SMS initiative which makes it easier to trace the offender due to the good quality of the cell phone number data. This resulted in the department getting a better response on the SMSes sent to the motorist as opposed to the posted notices,’ says Smith.
The SMS campaign came nine months after the implementation of the Admin Mark system in June 2013. 
The introduction of additional magistrates at the City’s municipal courts to deal with traffic-related matters and expedite the signing of warrants to be served on motorists, is also currently being finalised.
In addition, Cape Town Traffic continues its ‘Operation Reclaim’ initiative which uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition to track down offenders with outstanding warrants. In the last quarter, 12 163 motorists were arrested under the auspices of the operation. Operation Reclaim has quadrupled in capacity and is tracing and tracking many more offenders and bringing them to book.
‘We are still considering ways of expediting the serving of summonses, because currently, that continues to be a major challenge. But, we are on the right track and will continue to do everything possible to hold people to account. The SMS system has also proven that we do not have to resort to heavy-handed tactics – it is a simple, yet effective measure and speaks to the more tech savvy approach that we’re looking to implement,’ says Smith.

Published by the City of Cape Town.
© City of Cape Town, 2016