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Minister confirms 5% spike in festive season road deaths


Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has described the 2016 festive season as one of the most challenging after announcing that a total of 1 714 people had died on the country's roads during December 2016 / January 2017.

Addressing the media in Midrand on Tuesday, Peters stated that the latest figures point to a five percent increase compared to same time in 2015, with 49% of all crashes involving light motor cars followed by light delivery vehicles (18%) and minibus taxis (10%).

Passengers made up the majority of fatalities with 40% followed by pedestrians (34%), drivers (24%) and cyclist (2%), with six percent involving child pedestrians aged zero to four years old.

"This year we have seen a high number of passengers dying on the roads compared to the previous period when pedestrians constituted a high number of fatalities among road user groups," Peters said.

Of the provinces, Limpopo recorded the highest number of fatalities (244) ahead of KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, with the Northern Cape posting the lowest at five percent undercutting the eight percent recorded in North West and six percent in the Western Cape.

"What is alarming is that four provinces, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Limpopo jointly accounted for 61% of the total number of people who died on the roads in this period," Peters said, adding that the sheer number of head-on collisions involving single vehicle points to a general lack of driving incompetence.

There is an influx on our roads of drivers who are not competent and qualified to be driving on our roads. I have instructed the Road Traffic Management Corporation to undertake an audit of how driving licenses as well as road safety certificates are processed and issued in our testing stations, so that we can have an appreciation of how it is possible that so many incompetent drivers and un-roadworthy vehicles could be on our roads," she said.

Peters stated that a total of 453 263 fines were issued at 432 roadblocks across the country, with 28 238 consisting of drivers failing to wear their seatbelts and 4 046 talking on their cellphones. A total of 9 175 arrests were carried out with 5 493 being for drunken driving - an increase of 65% - while 6 085 un-roadworthy vehicles were taken off the roads and a further 2 501 impounded.

"The use of alcohol needs to be curtailed. As South Africans, we need to take drinking and driving as a menace. We are working with the Justice Department to reclassify drunken driving from schedule 3 to schedule 5 to mete out harsher sentences," Peters said.

A total of 18 motorists were also arrested for speeding with the highest being a driver of Mercedes-Benz clocked at 239 km/h on the R21 near Pretoria.

"We have come from one of the most challenging festive seasons which stretched our resources to the limit, which also put a strain on our law enforcement operations and unleashed untold misery on many families,” Peters said.

"(However), we will not lose the momentum created by the efforts we put into place this festive season. The Department will continue to implement ongoing campaigns to ensure that we significantly reduce road fatalities by the end of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety Campaign in 2020".

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