Road fatalities down over holiday period

The preliminary report on fatalities on South Africa’s roads during the 2017/18 festive season shows an 11% drop in the number of deaths compared to the same period a year ago.

Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, said that a significant decline was noted among young pedestrians aged 25 to 34, but there was a disturbing increase among those aged 35 to 44.

The preliminary 2017/18 Festive Season report indicates an 11% decline in fatalities on the roads when compared to the same period in the previous year – above the 10% target set by the Department of Transport.

“Our preliminary festive season fatalities for the period starting 1 December 2017 to 9 January 2018 show that there were 1 527 people who died on the roads in that period, compared to 1 714 fatalities in the same period the previous year,” said Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi.

Figures for the entire holiday period from 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018 show a total of 1 676 fatalities compared to 1 875 fatalities for the previous year.

“The highest number of fatalities was among pedestrians, which increased from 34% to 37%,” the minister noted.

Although fatalities among drivers increased from 23% to 27%, there was a decline in passenger fatalities from 41% to 35%. “It is possible to save more lives if more people use safety belts,” Maswanganyi said.

While there was an increase in fatalities among younger drivers between the ages of 25 and 34, there was an encouraging decline in the number of fatalities among drivers between the ages of 35 and 49.

A significant decline was noted among young pedestrians aged 25 to 34, but there was a disturbing increase among those aged 35 to 44.

Western Cape, North West numbers up

The department recorded a noticeable decline in the number of fatalities in seven provinces. However, the Western Cape and the North West provinces recorded increases of 7% and 11% respectively.

Western Cape MEC of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant, attributed the rise in fatalities in the province to an increase in the number of pedestrians.

“I have asked for geographic information system (GIS) mapping so we can find the exact locations of where pedestrians are being knocked down,” Grant said, adding that 61% of the pedestrians who died in road incidents were found to have ethanol in their blood. “In other words they have been drinking,” Grant said.

The North West attributed the increase in fatalities to focusing law enforcement operations on highways and neglecting rural areas.

The province is planning to construct more speed humps on its roads in an effort to reduce fatalities.

Limpopo, Free State, KZN see figures drop

Limpopo managed to achieve the highest drop in the number of fatalities, followed by the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

Minister Maswanganyi said an impressive 43% decline in fatalities was recorded on the top 13 most hazardous routes, with 244 deaths recorded on these roads compared to 429 in the previous period.

Speed and alcohol

While the safety campaign over the festive season focused on drunk drivers, the figures showed a decline in the number of motorists arrested for drunken driving from 5 943 in 2016/17 to 3 301 in 2017/18.

“This is evidence of improved compliance and the success of our messages warning against drinking and driving,” Maswanganyi said.

However, speed continued to be a major headache, with 922 drivers arrested for breaking speed limits, compared to 785 in the 2016/17 period.

Five motorists were arrested in Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape for driving at speeds exceeding 220 kilometres an hour in a 120 km zones.

Traffic violation notices decrease

The number of traffic violation notices showed a decrease: 453 263 violations were recorded in the previous period compared to 304 603 in the period under review.

There was a decline in the number of people who were fined for failing to wear safety belts and in the number of impounded unroadworthy vehicles.