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Festive season road deaths down

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“This resulted in a 10 percent reduction in the number of fatalities from 1 789 fatalities in 2018/19 to 1 617 fatalities in 2019/20 festive season.”

ROAD fatalities over the festive season in the Northern Cape declined by 13% with 49 fatalities recorded in the Province.

This is according to the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalulu, who released the statistics for the 2019/20 Festive Season Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign yesterday.

According to Mbalulu, the total number of fatal crashes throughout the country dropped by 3% from 1 438 in 2018/19 to 1 390 in 2019/20.

“This resulted in a 10 percent reduction in the number of fatalities from 1 789 fatalities in 2018/19 to 1 617 fatalities in 2019/20 festive season.”

The Free State recorded the highest reduction in fatalities, dropping by 35%, followed by Mpumalanga with a 23% decline and Western Cape with a 19% decline. The North West recorded a 16% decline, the Northern Cape a 13% decline, Eastern Cape a 7% decline and KwaZulu-Natal 5%.

Increases were recorded in Limpopo where fatalities increased by 12% and in Gauteng where they increased by 1%.

“A total of 111 people died on the roads in the Free State, 144 in Mpumalanga, 136 in the Western Cape, 110 in North West, 49 in the Northern Cape, 242 in the Eastern Cape, 354 in KwaZulu-Natal, 217 in Limpopo and 254 in Gauteng.”

Mbalulu added that the carnage on South African roads remained unacceptably high. “The number of people who lose life and limb on our roads is alarming and the cost to the economy is in excess of R168 billion.”

He stated further that the number of vehicles that were stopped and checked over the festive season increased from 1.3 million in the previous period to 1.5 million.

“Roadblocks conducted nationwide increased from 775 previously to 1 924. More than 573 147 motorists were issued with traffic fines. The number of traffic fines issued decreased by 191 862 as a result of increased compliance with road regulations by motorists.”

The number of discontinued vehicles increased from 4 016 to 6 358 and vehicles that were impounded increased from 2 967 to 3 814.

“The most common offences for which traffic fines were issued were: speeding with 58 669 fines, driving without a licence with 26 516 fines, driving without fastening seat belt accounted for 25 786 fines, driving unlicensed vehicles at 32 481 and fines for driving cars with worn tyres were 13 311.”

Law enforcement

He added that this had been made possible through effective planning and co-ordination as well as sacrifices of law enforcement officers, “who gave up their family time to put their shoulders behind the wheel, making South African roads safer”.

According to Mbalulu, the festive season traffic was also impacted upon by heavy rains experienced in the second half of December and early January, particularly in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and Free State.

“This resulted in a 4.8 percent increase in road and environment as contributory factors to crashes and fatalities.”

Human factor as a contributor decreased by 8%, while vehicle factors increased by 2.5% “as a result of collisions involving malaishas, who drove heavily loaded and unroadworthy vehicles to our neighbouring countries”.

Mbalulu added that another key phenomenon observed was crashes occurring on routes that were not previously identified as hazardous. “This was as a result of some errant motorists choosing to use these routes to avoid detection by our law enforcement officers.

“Our analysis further demonstrates that the main causes of fatal crashes over this period were pedestrians, single vehicle overturning, hit and run and head-on collisions.”

Vehicles mostly involved in fatal crashes were light motorcars at 42%, light delivery vehicles at 20% and minibuses or combis at 9%. “The fact that minibuses have contributed less than 10 percent of the fatal crashes confirms the success of Operation Hlokomela, which is an initiative of the taxi industry and again shows that law enforcement operations focused on the public transport are bearing fruit.”

The minister pointed out that his department had adopted a zero tolerance policy to fraud and corruption, drunken driving and speeding.

“Eighty-five people – including traffic officers, vehicles testing station staff, and ordinary motorists were arrested on charges of bribery, fraud and forgery. Three vehicle testing stations in Limpopo were shut down as a result of the anti-corruption investigations undertaken to eliminate the fraudulent issuing of vehicle roadworthy certificates.”

Six law enforcers, namely three members of the SAPS, one member of the SANDF, a member of Correctional Services and a security officer, were arrested in the Eastern Cape for drunken driving.

A medical doctor was also arrested in Gauteng after involvement in a collision and was found to be under the influence of alcohol.

“It is unacceptable that law enforcement officials should be found breaking the law and we call on the courts to consider their careers as an aggravating factor and give them the toughest sentences possible.”

Meanwhile, a total of 9 414 motorists were arrested for various offences including among others drunken driving, speeding, reckless and negligent driving and for outstanding warrants.