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No Easter deaths on Province’s roads

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At the end of the Easter weekend, a total of 26 fatal crashes were recorded, which resulted in 28 fatalities. Most crashes involved pedestrians and single vehicles that overturned.

WITH this year’s Easter holidays coming against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a nationwide lockdown, the number of crashes on the Northern Cape’s roads dropped to zero.

This was announced by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who released the Easter fatality statistics on Friday.

According to Mbalula, the reduction of vehicle movement on South African roads, as a result of the lockdown, was estimated to be above 70%.

“Our traffic law enforcement authorities had done extensive preparations for the Easter holiday period, which is ordinarily characterised by high traffic volumes to places of pilgrimage and holidays. However, these plans were disrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic on our shores,” said Mbalula. 

“This meant that schools had to close early, Easter pilgrimages were cancelled, and a ban was imposed on travelling between metros, districts and provinces. Because of these measures, the number of vehicles dropped significantly over the Easter period as the majority of people stayed at home in compliance with the lockdown regulations.”

The reduction in traffic volumes also had a corresponding effect on the number of traffic violations. According to Mbalula, the number of drivers arrested for drunken driving was 11, while the number of drivers caught speeding stood at one. “This is in sharp contrast with 807 arrested for drunken driving and 192 for speeding in 2019.” 

A total of 184 vehicles were, however, stopped and ordered to return home for travelling in contravention of the lockdown regulations and directions. 

At the end of the Easter weekend, a total of 26 fatal crashes were recorded, which resulted in 28 fatalities. Most crashes involved pedestrians and single vehicles that overturned.

This is in contrast with the 128 crashes recorded over the same period in 2019, claiming 162 lives. 

The provincial breakdown was: Mpumalanga: six crashes resulting in seven fatalities; KwaZulu-Natal: five crashes resulting in six fatalities; Eastern Cape: five crashes resulting in five fatalities; Gauteng: three crashes resulting in three fatalities; Western Cape: three crashes resulting in three fatalities; North West: three crashes resulting in three fatalities and Limpopo: one crash resulting in one fatality. 

Both the Free State and the Northern Cape recorded no crashes.

Mbalula meanwhile warned that his department would intensify its visibility in pupil transport, highlighting a collision involving a Toyota Avanza and a Toyota HiAce minibus on the R553 Golden Highway in Gauteng that claimed the lives of 12 pupils.  

“The focus on pupil transport will include closer collaboration with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that no school allows children to be transported in unroadworthy vehicles.” 

Mbalula also announced that the department would be introducing a new requirement that those involved in transporting pupils must, on a quarterly basis, subject themselves to compliance tests and must submit a compliance certificate to the school. 

“Our law enforcement authorities will subject pupil transport operators to heavy scrutiny and rigorously enforce compliance. We will ensure that all unroadworthy vehicles are impounded. We are currently consulting with MECs to increase the impoundment fee to a minimum of R10 000 for first-time offenders.” 

He stated further that the department was looking at the reclassification of certain offences, including the classification of drunken driving as a Schedule 5 offence, which carries harsher penalties.

Referring to the lockdown regulations, Mbalula pointed out that once taxis completed their morning run between 5am to 10am, these taxis parked at the rank resulting in a mass gathering of drivers at these ranks, which is prohibited. “These taxis should be parked at places where they ordinarily park overnight, and drivers should return to their homes to avoid indirect gatherings. We will attend to this matter immediately.”