Preliminary figures for the 2011/2012 festive season road death toll report show a decrease in road fatalities compared to the previous festive season’s report.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said that 1 475 people died on the country’s roads, down from 1 230 fatal crashes during the 2011/2012 festive season.
“Last year, we reported that there were 1 551 fatalities out of 1 221 fatal crashes between 1 December 2010 and 8 January 2011. By the time we finalised last year’s festive season report, the number of fatalities had increased to 1 704 by 11 January 2011,” he said.
Ndebele said 156 crashes occurred in the Eastern Cape; 98 in Free State; 207 in Gauteng; 256 in KwaZulu-Natal; 137 in Limpopo; 120 in Mpumalanga; 39 in the Northern Cape; 96 in North West and 121 in the Western Cape.
The common causes of crashes during the 2011/2012 festive period included speeding, dangerous, reckless or inconsiderate driving, especially barrier line infringements, which has seen a huge increase in fatalities as a result of head-on collisions.
“More than 70 percent of the major fatal crashes were of the head-on type as a result of dangerous overtaking, abuse of alcohol by drivers and pedestrians; vehicle fitness especially tyre failure and defective brakes,” he said.
He further singled-out the non-use of seatbelts as one of the major contributors to fatalities or serious injuries on the roads.
“We want to make a special appeal to all road users to buckle up at all times. Research has proven that if we can get the seatbelt wearing rate up from the current 60 percent for front seat occupants, the dismally low three percent for rear seat passengers up to 80 percent, there is an automatic 30 percent reduction in fatalities,” he said.
Road traffic crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people across the world every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more.
Ndebele said they would soon officially unveil a new road safety strategy called ‘Towards Safe Roads in South Africa – 2015?.
Officials would also continue to stop and check no less than a million vehicles and drivers every month as well as aggressively pursue dangerous drivers who drink and drive recklessly.
Ndebele said it was time that South Africans stood up collectively for safer roads.
“We are on the side of all law abiding road users and would like to appeal to the rest to comply or feel the heat.”
Ndebele also passed the Torch of Peace to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, which is a symbolic gesture of the country’s national campaign to combat violence against women and children.
The torch was handed over to Ndebele on 10 December last year by the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.
Motshekga will now hand over the Torch of Peace to Justice Minister Jeff Radebe in March and it will form part of Human Rights Day commemorations. – BuaNews