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Only reduced road deaths will bear out committment

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The recklessness on our roads turns the merriment into a black Christmas for many families.

FESTIVE road fatalities spoil the long-awaited holidays that many South Africans look forward to all year.

The recklessness on our roads turns the merriment into a black Christmas for many families.

Road deaths increased by a shocking 16% between December 1 and December 18 in 2018.

Former transport minister Blade Ndzimande described the bloodbath as an unparalleled “mixture of agony, misery and pain on our roads”.

According to preliminary figures, 1286 car accidents were recorded during the 2018/19 festive season.

This resulted in 1 612 fatalities.

KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest number of deaths with 328 in 267 crashes, followed by the Eastern Cape, where there were 238 fatalities in 195 car accidents.

Gauteng recorded a 19% decrease in fatalities on the road and North West saw a 2% decrease.

The causes of the road carnage remain recklessness and drunk driving, despite repeated warnings from law enforcement agencies.

The surge in road deaths over the festive period is caused primarily by excessive speeding and drunk driving.

These are man-made calamities that can be avoided.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has said alcohol abuse also leads to other crimes such as murder and rape.

“The figures we get on the deaths on the road are associated with alcohol and the figures we get on the abuse of women and children are also associated with alcohol.

“It is a source of evil,” said Cele.

It is against this background that we strongly urge the government and the police to come down hard on motorists that put innocent lives at risk on the road.

Special police focus must be placed on removing unroadworthy vehicles, locking up drunk motorists and those that exhibit bad driving behaviour through effective law enforcement and visible policing that forces every driver to obey road rules.

Losing over 1 600 people to road accidents each December holiday is simply unacceptable.

We have heard the promises that Mbalula has made about dealing with lawlessness on our roads this Christmas.

It’s all well and good, but our only measurement of success of his road safety campaign will be a big reduction in road fatalities.