Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and his provincial counterparts have hailed a decrease in road fatalities during the festive season, but bemoaned a sluggish and ineffective justice system, which impeded on traffic authorities sanctioning motorists who transgress the rules of the road.
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.
“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,” Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said.
Minister Maswanganyi said the figure represents an 11% decline which surpassed the 10% target.
He was addressing a media briefing in Tshwane on Monday where he officially released the preliminary 2017/18 Festive Season road safety report.
“When considering the entire holiday period from 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018, there were 1 676 fatalities compared to 1 875 fatalities for the same period in the previous year,” Minister Maswanganyi said.
Western Cape, North West record increase in fatalities
The department has recorded a noticeable decline in the number of fatalities in seven provinces with the exception of the Western Cape and the North West provinces which recorded 7% and 11% increases, respectively.
Western Cape MEC of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant, attributed the increase in fatalities in the province to the increase in the number of pedestrians.
“I have asked for a geographic information system (GIS) mapping so that we can find the exact locations of where the pedestrians are being knocked down…61% of the pedestrians who are killed and found in the morgues have ethanol in their blood. In other words they have been drinking,” MEC Grant said.
The North West has attributed the increase in fatalities in its planning which focused its law enforcement operations on the highway roads and neglected rural areas.
The province is planning to increase speed humps on its roads in an effort to reduce fatalities.
Limpopo, Free State, KZN record reduction in fatalities
Limpopo managed to achieve the highest reduction 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 13identified hazardous routes with 244 deaths recorded on these routes compared to 429 in the previous period.
“The highest number of fatalities was among pedestrians which increased from 34% to 37%and fatalities among drivers also increased from 23% to 27%. However, there was a decline in passenger fatalities from 41% to 35% which indicates that it is possible to save more lives if more people use safety belts,” he said.
Minister Maswanganyi said while there was an increase in fatalities among youthful 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 youthful pedestrians aged 25 to 34 but there was a disturbing increase among those aged 35 to 44.
Drunken driving, arrested motorists
“While drunken driving was a major focus area during the period under review, there was however a decline in the number of motorists arrested for drunken driving from 5 943 in the 2016/17 period to 3 301 in the 2017/18 period.
“This is another evidence of improved compliance and the success of our messages warning against drinking and driving,” Minister Maswanganyi said.
Speed a major headache
He said speed continued to be a major headache with 922 drivers arrested 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 as 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 the number of discontinued vehicles.