“Surely as a Department and the Road Traffic Management Corporation tasked with the responsibility of road safety, cannot sleep peacefully when thousands of our road users are mowed down on our roads by irresponsible road users,” were of the opening sentiments of the Department of Transport’s preliminary festive season report for December 2015 and January 2016. The report revealing that road fatalities during the festive season increased by 14% on the previous year of 2014.
“Between 1 December and January 11 the 1 387 fatal crashes experienced on the roads represents an 11% increase in the number of crashes compared to the 2014 festive season where 1 253 crashes were recorded,” reported Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters.
The Automobile Association (AA) stated:“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 2000 deaths over the period. We are deeply worried by these numbers and extend our condolences to the families and friends of all who lost their lives during this time.”
This set of preliminary statistics, however, are only partly reflective of the state of road safety in South Africa. As a ‘situational analysis’ processed at the beginning of the festive period ‘indicated that the number of registered vehicles had increased by a further 340 000 at the start of December last year with 508 054 new driver’s licences issued’.
What the figures reveal
A closer look at the road incidents, revealed the following trends:
- “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%,” explained Peters.
- Of those who died, the majority were passengers at 38.3%, and then pedestrians at 34.9%, followed by drivers at 23.9% and cyclists 2.8%.
- “Weekends continue unabated to pose a major challenge as ably demonstrated by the recent festive season reality. Most crashes occurred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The highest fatal crashes were recorded on Saturday at a percentage contribution of 22.2% of the total fatal crashes, followed by Friday and Sunday with 18.8% and 16.9% respectively,” remarked Peters.
Also upon closer inspection it was found that the Western Cape recorded the highest percentage of fatalities, at 33%, having increased from 122 to 162. This was followed by North West which increased by 26%, from 108 to 136 fatalities. The Eastern Cape increased by 22% from 227 to 278 fatalities.
During the festive season the department had in addition, checked a recorded 1, 7 million vehicles, of which 6 000 motorists were drunk-driving, 808 were speeding excessively and they further discontinued 105 710 vehicles on the count of being un-roadworthy and 419 for other traffic infringements, expressed Peters in the report.
According to a DA report, the increase in road accidents, ‘confirms that the cancellation of the national Arrive Alive campaign was irresponsible and has contributed to the increase in the number of fatal crashes and deaths on our roads over the festive season.’
The AA, similarly, expressed the sentiment that “stricter, law enforcement is needed.”
The Association further said: “It is important that government make available the latest in-depth statistics for annual road deaths in South Africa to enable road safety campaigners to assess which initiatives and interventions are working, and which are not.”