Fewer people die on roads in festive season

The number of fatalities on South African roads over the festive season decreased by 13,26%, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday. He was releasing the Arrive Alive campaign’s figures for the holiday season from December 1 to January 6.

He said that the number of people killed on the roads had declined from 1 636 in 2006/07 to 1 419 in 2007/08.

Although there was a drop in fatalities, the minister said that the accidents that had occurred were mainly due to excessive speed. ”The report shows under human factors that speed played a major role in fatal crashes in most of the provinces, particularly in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and the Northern Cape.”

Fatalities on Northern Cape roads decreased by 52,38% from 63 in 2006/07 to 30 in 2007/08, while fatalities in Mpumalanga increased by 46, or 33,33%, from 138 to 184.

Although Gauteng showed a decrease from 344 to 290 fatalities, the minister said that 50% of fatal crashes reported in the province were attributed to speed.

Pedestrian jaywalking played a role in KwaZulu-Natal’s fatalities, and in the Western and Eastern Cape, Free State and Limpopo.

Driver fatalities decreased by 12,27% from 440 to 386, while pedestrian fatalities decreased by 16,44% from 651 to 544. Fatal crashes over the December 1 to January 6 festive period decreased by 2,64% from 1 363 in 2006/07 to 1 327 in 2007/08.

According to the Transport Department, alcohol, the weather and mechanical problems such as brake failure contributed to road accidents.

”Traffic authorities will continue to deal with drinking-and-driving violations, which carry a fine of R120 000, or six years in jail. The sad reality of our situation is that the majority of the victims of road crashes have no respect for the law. It is this disrespect for the law that leads to unnecessary loss of human life.”

The number of registered vehicles grew by 6,12% from 8 544 902 in December 2006 to 9 068 120 vehicles at the end of December 2007.

Radebe also handed over the department’s Torch of Peace — an initiative that forms a link between initiatives such as the 16 Days of Activism Campaign of No Violence against Women and Children, Arrive Alive and the Safer Schools project — to the Education Department.

He said that schoolchildren are among the ”most vulnerable” groups when it came to road crashes. ”As minister of transport I am disturbed when I see, read and hear of scholars or any individual being killed in road accidents at any given time.” — Sapa

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