55 people killed on Western Cape roads during holiday season week

The Western Cape reported 55 road fatalities during the peak holiday season over a period of seven days from 20 to 27 December. Of these, 14 pedestrians were killed, more than half of whom had been drinking while nearly 40% were recorded as drunk. 

Results of the provincial traffic services traffic operations were released on Wednesday, 29 December.

Of the nearly 35 000 vehicles stopped and searched, 5 873 fines were issued for traffic violations amounting to just more than R8.7-million. 

A total of 279 speeding offences were recorded with the highest speed being 163km/h in a 120km/h speed zone. There were 68 arrests made for violations of the National Road Traffic Act, Criminal Procedure Act and Disaster Management Act over the seven days. Thirty-nine of those arrested were people driving under the influence of alcohol. 

Western Cape transport and public works head Daylin Mitchell said he was seriously   concerned about the large number of drunk drivers arrested.

“Driving when you have been drinking is dangerous, regardless of how much, or how little, you drink. Alcohol affects your judgement and slows down your ability to respond in an emergency,” Mitchell said. 

“An error of judgement may mean killing or injuring someone on the road, in another vehicle, or in your own vehicle … The consequences of irresponsible driving behaviour may be with you for the rest of your life.” 

Eighteen of the 55 road fatalities were drivers. The number of motorists driving under the influence is not yet known. 

The provincial traffic results for the past week were released days after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced a 142% increase in fatal crashes nationwide since the start of the festive season compared to the previous year – when Covid-19 travelling restrictions were in place. 

Six provinces recorded a hike in road fatalities. A week ago, on 22 December, Mbalula said the Western Cape had recorded a 49.3% increase in fatalities from the 71 deaths recorded in 2020. 

Mitchell urged motorists to “behave responsibly while using the road network”, with New Year celebrations and people returning from holiday destinations likely to lead to another spike in traffic volumes over the coming weekend.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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