With the road death toll up by 5% over the festive season, the Department of Transport will seek to reclassify drunken driving as a schedule 5 offence.
Road deaths were announced on 10 January 2017 by Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, and it was revealed 1 714 people were killed in road crashes during the period 1 December to 9 January.
Reclassifying drunk driving as a schedule 5 offence means it will be in the same category as rape and murder.
Peters said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, 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. However we remained unrelenting and resolute through it all and we prevailed against all the odds.
“It is also important to note that the festive season road safety programme is not implemented in isolation, but forms part of an ongoing 365-day programme that the Department of Transport and its agencies in conjunction with our transport stakeholders and the general public carry out throughout the year to ensure that lives are saved.”
Although the death toll rose by 5%, a significant amount of financial resources were invested to promote awareness, intensify enforcement and up-scale general visibility. Public Education and Awareness campaigns were launched and some are still running across different media platforms, including radio, television, newspapers and below the line media.
“Strategic partnership with the likes of Engen Petroleum and Trace Urban TV Channel on #Ridewise campaign has gone a long way in planting seeds and inspiring other stakeholders to follow suite,” said Peters.
Road deaths in Limpopo increased 31% year on year, KwaZulu-Natal was up 18% and Free State 17%, while Gauteng and Mpumalanga increased 11% and 9% respectively.
Peters said: “The fact that an overwhelming majority of fatal crashes were as a result of a single motor vehicle overturning and head-on collisions points to the incompetence of our drivers to handle their motor vehicles. This buttresses the point and the aspersion of rampant corruption within our Drivers Licencing Testing Centres (DLTCs), compounded by the voluntary collusion and participation by our road users in their unflinching desire to acquire driver’s licences.
“There is an influx in our roads of drivers who are not competent and qualified to be driving on our roads. Such drivers lack appreciation and comprehension of the importance of roads signs and golden rules of the road.”
Peters added that she has instructed the Road Traffic Management Corporation to undertake an audit of how driving licences as well as roadworthy certificates are processed and issued at 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.
“Equally important is to understand the role played by private testing stations and driving schools in facilitating the issuing of documents to unqualified motorists,” said Peters.