/ 17 January 2023

Road fatalities over festive season drop by nearly 14%

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Road fatalities dropped by 13.9% during the festive season, with Gauteng being the only province that recorded an increase.

Road fatalities dropped by 13.9% during the festive season, with Gauteng being the only province that recorded an increase.

“The 2022-23 festive season recorded significant gains in our efforts to arrest road fatalities,” said transport minister Fikile Mbalula during a media briefing at the Grasmere toll plaza in Gauteng on Tuesday.

Mbalula announced the road traffic statistics for the festive season period between 1 December 2022 and 11 January this year.

During the 42-day period, 1 451 road deaths were recorded. This is a 13.9% reduction compared to the 1 685 fatalities during the previous festive season.

Mbalula welcomed another reduction of 6.5% in fatal crashes. A total of 1 211 fatal crashes were reported in the 2022-23 festive season, compared to 1 295 the previous year.

Despite recognising the “stubborn phenomenon” of heavy vehicles and trucks on the country’s roads, Mbalula gave limited feedback on his department’s efforts to reduce crashes involving heavy vehicles in hotspot segments of the N3 and N2.

“The realisation that a large number of heavy vehicles on our roads are [not] roadworthy, and vehicles having become a law unto themselves, must spur us into decisive action.

“We must redouble our efforts to find a long-term solution and decisive interventions, which must include deploying Mobile Vehicle Testing Centres in KwaZulu-Natal, on the N2 and N3,” stated the minister.

“We cannot shy away from the fact that the Pongola tragedy remains a grim reminder of the magnitude of the task at hand to ensure safety on our roads.”

In September last year, a truck overtaking another truck collided with a bakkie carrying school children outside Pongola, killing 20 people — 18 of them children.

However, Mbalula briefly noted that “we have not been able to execute the intervention we need, in terms of the department of transport deviation it seeks from treasury to implement this”.

While the fatality rate dropped by more than 20% in five provinces, Gauteng recorded an increase of 5.5% (275 to 290 road deaths).

“We must commend the provinces for their sterling work and unsurpassed commitment towards the realisation of our target to reduce fatalities on our roads by 25% by March 2024,” applauded Mbalula.

The minister said lessons must be drawn from the provinces that recorded a 20% or greater reduction in fatalities to “ensure that the best practice model is replicated in all provinces”. A reduction of 36.7% in road deaths was recorded in the Western Cape, followed by a 23.8% decline in Mpumalanga.

Between 1 December last year and 11 January, the traffic department issued 255 000 notices, with drunk driving and speeding the major offences.

On 3 January, a male driver was arrested with alcohol levels of 3.99 milligram per 1 000ml. He was 16.6 times over the limit. Mbalula noted that this was “unacceptable by any measure”.

Concluding his last traffic statistics address as transport minister, Mbalula said that visible policing at “hazardous locations” would be prioritised “especially at accident-prone times”.

Mbalula was elected ANC general secretary during the ruling party’s 55th national conference in December.