Jan

No cheer on the roads over the Festive Season

2017-01-19 10:54
Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, flanked on the left by her deputy, Sindisiwe Lydia Chikunga and on the right by RTMC chairman Zola Majavu, made a pertinent comment from her heart at the conference which sort of tells of the tragedy over this past season: “As we gather here today, there is a mother in a village who is staring blankly at the picture of a daughter or a son she was expecting to come home for Christmas. This was supposed to have been a celebratory reunion, but sadly was not to be. Her hopes had been high until she received the news that her beloved had died in a car crash on their way home. Since that eventful moment, the life of the family has changed for the worst and life will never be the same again. On the other hand, somewhere in a prison cell, a young man is sitting with his head buried in his hands as he contemplates the damage that his reckless, irresponsible and selfish bravado has caused. As his young daughter dons her school uniform for the first time in her life and begins her first day at school, he will be standing in the dock facing a magistrate and pleading for his freedom.”

The following facts and statistics were issued by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, at a press conference held earlier this month detailing the preliminary accident and fatalities for the 2016/17 festive season road accidents.

A total of 1 714 fatalities were recorded in this festive period which is a 5% increase on the previous period. The Eastern Cape with 211 fatalities recorded the biggest decline in fatalities with a reduction of 20% compared to the same period last year when it had 265 fatalities. The North West recorded 8%, the Western Cape 6% and Northern Cape 5% reductions.

Limpopo recorded the highest increase of 31% moving from 186 fatalities in the previous period to 244 in this period. The KZN and Free State equally recorded an increase in the percentage of fatalities at 18% and 17% respectively.

The four provinces of 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.

Traffic law enforcement officers conducted more than 432 roadblocks throughout the country during this festive period and issued 453 263 fines for various traffic offences. Of these fines, 28 238 were for drivers who failed to wear seatbelts while 4 046 were for using cell phones while driving.

About 6 805 unroadworthy vehicles were suspended or discontinued while 2 501 other motor vehicles were impounded. To clamp down on drunken driving, speed and other moving violation, the officers arrested about 9 175 motorists and 5 943 of them – which is 65% – was for drunken driving.

A total of 18 drivers were arrested for driving at excessive speeds of between 182 km per hour to well above 200 km per hour. The highest speedster was arrested in Gauteng travelling at 239 km an hour in a Mercedes Benz on R21 near Tshwane.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to wear seatbelt, using cell-phones while driving, excessive speeding, disregarding road conditions and signs reflect a negative attitude that many motorists have towards the rules of the road,” said Peters.

Preliminary statistics show that road fatalities increased in five provinces and declined in four provinces, namely: the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape and the North West. This year a high number of passengers died on the roads compared to the previous period when pedestrians constituted a high number of fatalities among road user groups.

Passengers constituted 40% of fatalities, pedestrians 34%, drivers 24% and cyclists 2%. Children aged from 0 – 4 contributed 6% of pedestrian deaths. The gender mostly affected was males at 75% of the total fatalities. Females contributed 23% which marks a 2% decrease compared to the previous year, of the fatalities. Of this number, 81% is apportioned to Blacks while the remainder are Coloured, Whites and Asians

The Minister said that building on previous and recent experiences, the Department of Transport will continue to improve its enforcement policies and strategies, and upscale public safety campaigns. Specific interventions, going forward are:

  • Review existing legislative instruments to identify areas that need strengthening and further improvements.
  • Strengthen co-ordination and existing partnerships within government and outside government to maximize the impact of the public education and awareness programmes.
  • Continue with endeavours to improve the state of our roads and the public transport system;
  • Take further steps towards the implementation of the drivers licence demerit system;
  • Further technological innovations will be persued;
  • Continue our engagements and finalise with the Department of Justice to introduce minimum sentences for negligent and reckless driving. We are seeking to reclassify drunken driving from a Schedule 3, which is less severe to a more severe Schedule 5 offence to ensure those who negligently cause crashes on the roads do not get bail easily and spend time behind bars and
  • Our cross-border operations will be strengthened to deal with the high incidents of cross-border minibus vehicles that are overloaded with both passengers and goods.
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