For 1 755 families in South Africa, the Festive Season turned into a season of tragedy. This is the total number of people killed on South Africa’s roads during the past festive season between December 1st and January 11th. This represents an increase of 14% compared to the same period last year accounting for 220 more deaths than the 1 535 people killed last year. The number of fatal crashes increased from 1 253 last year to 1 387 this year – an 11% increase.
These figures were released by Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters at press conference held in Pretoria this week. According to the minister, human factors contributed the most to the crashes.
The majority of people who died were passengers at 38.3% followed by pedestrians at 34,9%. Drivers made up 23,9% of the fatalities and cyclists 2,8%. She said small motor vehicles accounted for 47,9% of total crashes during this season followed by light delivery vehicles at 22.7%, minibuses or combis at 10.1% and trucks contributed 4.8%.
FleetWatch extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the 1 755 people who were killed during this period. We will continue fighting to improve safety on our roads. The number of deaths in such a short period of time is just bloody madness and South Africa can hang its head in shame at having failed the families of those who died and those now lying in hospital – many of whom will not survive.
Commenting on the latest figures, the Automobile Association (AA) says the figures are alarming and point to a need for concerted intervention to address the problem of road safety in our country.
“We are concerned by these figures which will undoubtedly increase once the final numbers are calculated. We expect that the final figures will be close to 2 000 deaths over the period,” the AA says.
The Association says while several factors contributed to this figure, the over-riding reason for the road deaths was poor driver attitude and a disregard for the law.
“Many causes such as drunk driving, speeding, driving without seatbelts and risky overtaking, have been forwarded as reasons for the fatalities. All of these point to poor driver attitudes. If drivers don’t take responsibility for their actions, and carry on making decisions that they know to be wrong for their own sake, these figures will simply not improve,” the AA noted.
In addition to improved driver behaviour, the AA believes that better and stricter law enforcement is needed. The Association says moving violations are areas that traffic law enforcers need to come down harder on. Co-ordinated safe driving campaigns to educate all road users aimed at reducing crashes and fatalities were also vital to bring the numbers down.
The AA also says that government needs to reaffirm its commitment to working with the various groups and non-government organisations who are working hard to improve road safety in our country. “Many of these organisations need the support of government but too many initiatives fail to launch without sufficient government support,” the Association says.
FleetWatch will be taking an in-depth look at the situation in our first eMag edition of the year. Our only comment until then is: Tragic, shocking and totally unacceptable. And who’s to blame? We all are.